Cooper Hewitt Adds Digital Curatorial Department

First New Collecting Department In 125 Years

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is establishing a Digital curatorial department, which will collect and care for born-digital work. This new collecting department will be led by Andrea Lipps, the founding head of digital, who will frame, build and manage the digital collection and its stewardship. The Digital department is the first entirely new collecting department at Cooper Hewitt in more that 125 years.

“Digital design will continue to radically change how we interact with the world and with each other in critical ways,” said Maria Nicanor, director of Cooper Hewitt. “Museums need to be at the center of this conversation, so I am delighted to establish Digital as the museum’s fifth curatorial department in recognition of the important work that Cooper Hewitt has led in this area of design over the years.” Lipps adds: “Digital work challenges us to rethink museum practices around collecting, stewardship and display. We are developing new and exciting methods of preservation and presentation while envisioning ways to provide greater public access to this collection.”



As a material format, born-digital design – work that originates and exists digitally – is among the most rapidly expanding realms of design practice. Interaction design, data visualization, app design, web design, information architecture, game design, digital animation, born-digital typography, interface design, artificial intelligence and more are central areas of design innovation weaved into people’s everyday experiences. Currently, the museum holds nearly 70 file- and code-based digital works. Conservator Jessica Walthew, alongside digital-conservation contractors, has been instrumental in overseeing the challenging work of stewarding this young collection.