Looks like there's a new museum trend in town: Last month, the New York Hall of Science debuted its cool collaborative clubhouse Maker Space for families. Now the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum has opened its brand-new Design Center, where toddlers to teens can take art workshops led by museum educators and design professionals.
This past Saturday, my daughter and I went to the opening day of the Cooper-Hewitt Design Center, located on the ground floor of a swanky glass condo on the northern edge of Central Park. At 1,500 square feet, the sleek storefront space is certainly a lot smaller and less ornate than Cooper-Hewitt's landmark Fifth Avenue Carnegie Mansion home, which is currently closed for renovations. However, the center is an exciting addition to Harlem, offering a variety of design workshops, preschooler playtime and storytelling, and other kids' activities. The best part? All programming is absolutely FREE.
Todd Oldham designed the Cooper-Hewitt Design Center with help from teens in the museum’s free DesignPrep program. Charming mosaics adorn the walls and the support columns are covered in bark print to look like trees. The floor-to-ceiling front window lets in a ton of light and offers gorgeous views of northern Central Park right across the street.
My daughter and I attended a design your own Muppet workshop. Designers from Sesame Workshop showed kids how to draw Ernie, Elmo and other popular characters step by step. They then handed out cheat sheets with common Muppet facial features, plus art supplies. The kids worked on the floor, but the Design Center will put out tables and chairs for workshops for older participants. The instruction and vibe is casual; kids are just encouraged to be creative and enjoy themselves.
For now, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Center is hosting kids' art workshops the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, as well as special programming for preschoolers every Tuesday morning, with interactive activities like storytelling with Jonathan Kruk, a pop-up Imagination Playground and crafts. The complete schedule of workshops and activities is available on the website. Even though all programming is FREE you must register in advance for all events. The folks at Cooper-Hewitt say they hope to keep the Design Center open even after the museum reopens post-renovations. We certainly hope this is a permanent addition to Harlem!
The Cooper-Hewitt Design Center is located at 111 Central Park North at Lenox Avenue. It's a few steps from the Central Park North-110th Street 2 or 3 subway stop.
Find out about other cool art workshops and exhibits in our Museum Guide.