The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, in the Carnegie Mansion on 5th avenue, is closed for the next two years to undergo extensive renovations so that the entire mansion can be converted to exhibition galleries. The library, began in the 1890s by the Hewitt Sisters at Cooper Union, occupied the Carnegie Mansion’s third floor when the collections were obtained by SI in the 1970s. Since that time, the library has grown to include approximately 80,000 volumes, 4500 trade catalogues, and several picture collections.
CHNDM Library Reading Room in the Carnegie Mansion
For more than two years, CHM Library staff, volunteers, and student workers have been planning the move of the library into two new spaces – connected townhouses on 90th Street adjacent to the mansion known as Miller and Fox Houses, and to a facility in Newark, New Jersey. Over the past five months, the collections have moved partially to Miller-Fox, and partially to Newark. Library staff worked with SI's Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations and the design firms of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP and Gluckman Mayner Architects in planning these new spaces.
The staff and public spaces of the Library are on the second floor of the connected Fox and Miller Houses. Two rooms of the Miller House, the former residence of Andrew & Louise Carnegie’s daughter Margaret and her husband Roswell Miller, were refurbished. One oak paneled room serves as the library’s workroom and offices for the CHM Library staff. The Fred & Rae S. Friedman Rare Book Room (formerly the Bradley Room in the Mansion space), features state-of-the-art environment/security and fire suppression systems and compact shelving to house CHM Exposition, CHM Bradley, and all CHM RB materials.
The public spaces of the library are in Fox House (the former M. Louise McALpin residence built in 1903), comprised of the Reception/reference room at the library entrance, and 2 Reading rooms. The Reception Room contains current and bound serials and reference volumes, an area to greet and register visitors, public work stations with PCs, scanners, printers, and a microfilm reader-printer.
The Arthur Ross Reading Room, an elegant renovated parlor to the south of the reference area, is adorned with a crystal chandelier and wall sconces by E.F.Caldwell & Co.; a marble fireplace, mirrors, and modern seating and tables by Steelcase to accommodate twenty researchers along with shelving for serials and student shelves and course reserves.
A second oval, wood-paneled room also with marble mantel & original Caldwell lighting fixtures to the north of the reference area, serves as the ”quiet reading room”, accommodating twelve researchers. Cooper Union Museum and Cooper-Hewitt exhibition catalogues, long runs of shelter magazines and more reference works are housed here.
Downstairs, the new first floor compact shelving stacks are accessible by stairs from the reference area, housing approximately 20,000 monographs, serials, and Master’s theses. Trade literature and past CHM exhibition records are housed on stationary shelving here.
Approximately 60% of the monograph and bound serials collection are now in compact shelving in a secure and environmentally controlled, 2700 square foot space in the offsite facility in Newark, New Jersey – a floor above where the CHNDM objects collections are housed. The Caldwell, Kubler, Czech book covers, postcard, large trade catalog, pop up books, and archive collections have also been moved to Newark. A majority of items housed offsite –thanks to SIL’s cataloging division- are now noted in SIRIS as CHM NWK. This offsite facility provides space for years of collection growth.