2 East 91st Street, New York, NY 10128

Phone Number

(212) 849 - 8400

Date Visited



Link to Website

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum


The Cooper Hewitt is located at 2 East 91st Street, New York, NY.  Parking must be found on the street or in nearby garages. There are three stone steps to the main entrance. To the left is a smooth concrete path leading to the  double door, push-button assist, main entrance. Go through another set of doors to the coat check area. Eight steps are required to get from the coat check area to the main lobby.  If needed, there is an elevator.

The building has four floors, with elevators to all of them. Smooth wooden floor galleries are easy to navigate, with ample space and occassional benches.

Multi-stall, handicapped-accessible restrooms, as well as a single-occupancy, handicapped- accessible restroom are located on the ground floor.  All restrooms have baby-changing stations.  Restrooms can also be found on the lower level of the cafe.

The cafe is multi-level.  Entering through the museum shop on the first floor gets you to the seating area. From here you must either walk down a flight of steps or take an elevator to the food level.  If you enter from the garden you are on the food and restroom level and must go up for a seat.


    Paths and walkways:  concrete paths in garden
    Doors:  ***push-button assist, double doors
    Number of floors:  4
    Elevators:  3
    Ramps:  none
    Steps and staircases:  to all levels
    Width of aisles:  galleries are spacious
    Places to sit:  seats in some galleries
    Location of restrooms:  ground floor, and food level of cafe
    Type of restroom:  multi-stall, handicapped-accessible and single-occupancy, handicapped accessible, including baby-changing stations
    Ease of entry and exit:  OK
    Baby changing station:  yes
    Available food services:  ****Tarallucci e Vino Cafe
    Friendliness of staff:  extremely friendly and knowledgeable
    Notes:  * Parking is either on the street or in nearby garages.** An easily accessible ramp leading to the main entrance is to the left***Once inside the two sets of doors there are 8 steps from the entry to the main lobby. An elevator is available if you need it.****The cafe can be tricky to navigate. You can get to the seating area through the Museum Shop, but must go down a flight of stairs or use the elevator to purchase food.

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The Cooper Hewitt is “…the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design.  The Museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life.  It is the mission of the Cooper Hewitt…to advance the public understanding of design across the thirty centuries of human creativity…” (website)

“Cooper Hewitt’s renovation provides the opportunity to redefine today’s museum experience and inspire each visitor to play designer before, during and after their visit.  Visitors can explore the museum’s collections and exhibitions using groundbreaking technologies that inspire learning and experimentation.  This new participatory experience has been specifically designed to engage all audiences…and make you want to visit time and time again.” (website)

It was founded in 1897 by Amy, Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt – granddaughters of Peter Cooper – as part of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.(website)  The building had been closed for almost four years for a massive renovation.  It reopened in December, 2014.  We were excited to visit.

The Museum is housed in the landmark (1974) Andrew Carnegie Mansion…a sixty- four room mansion built from 1899 – 1902.  It was built as a Georgian country house. It is one of the only ones in Manhattan that had, and still has, a large private garden. (website)  It is a very impressive building, with carved walls, ceilings, intricate molding and beautiful stained glass windows.  Viewing state of the art design projects in an old world setting is a very special experience.  Take time to look at the beautiful architectural details juxtaposed with the modern design displays.

As we walked down 90th Street we saw an open gate to the garden and a sign announcing the museum hours.  We thought this was an entrance.  As it turned out, this is NOT an entrance to the Museum.  It is, however, one way to get to the shop and cafe if one does not want to go to the Museum itself.

Onward to 92st Street, where we did find the main entrance.  There is a herringbone pattern cobblestone area in front of the three stone steps to the main entrance.  Just to the left you will find a concrete ramp leading to the same double door, push-button assist, entrance. Once inside you will find another set of double doors leading to the coat check area.  From here there are eight steps up to the heart of this wonderful building, the main lobby. If steps are a problem there is an elevator.

The building has four floors, with elevators to all .  Each floor has interesting and provocative exhibitions. The first one we visited, “”Beautiful Users,”” looks at how design has become more and more user-focused over the past fifty years, and how this shift has affected the daily lives of people everywhere (website). Next door is the Process Lab, an interactive space in which you have an opportunity to brainstorm design solutions through both hands-on and digital activities.

The Museum itself is an interactive experience.  Visitors can explore the collection digitally…draw their own designs…solve real world problems…discover Mansion History. (website)  To about all of these and more about the Museum itself, we highly recommend exploring the website before your visit.  It is quite an in depth site.

We found the Museum to be an amazing place.  From primitive prosthetics to new age 3D printers we found ourselves being wowed by what has been, what is now, and the vast possibilities for the future of design.

Galleries are easy to navigate, with smooth floors, ample space and an occasional bench. The polished parquet floors throughout are “”to die for.””

Restrooms are located only on the ground floor.  You will find multi-stall, handicapped-accessible restrooms, as well as a single-occupancy, handicapped accessible restroom.  All restrooms have baby-changing stations.  Restrooms are also located on the lower level of the cafe.

The Tarallucci e Vino Cafe is interesting to navigate.  If you enter through the Museum Shop on the first floor you will come to the seating area first.  From there you must either walk down a flight of steps or take an elevator to the food level.  If you enter from the garden you are on the food and restroom level and must walk up the stairs to sit and eat.

Everyone we encountered was exceptionally friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.  They all seemed truly happy to answer our questions.  The Cooper Hewitt is a place we will definitely revisit.

As always, we at Destination Accessible, advise you to check a venue’s website,, when planning a visit, to “know before you go.”



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