Cooper-Hewitt Receives $10 Million Gift

The Morton and Barbara Mandel Family Foundation’s gift supports new visitor experience, access to the collection and third-floor gallery.

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has received a $10 million gift from the Morton and Barbara Mandel Family Foundation on behalf of longtime trustee and board chair Barbara Mandel and her husband Morton. The gift is the largest in the history of the museum and will support the new Cooper-Hewitt, which opens in fall 2014 with 60 percent more gallery space after a major renovation of the historic Carnegie Mansion and grounds.

In recognition of this gift, the new third-floor gallery, which provides an additional 6,000 square feet of exhibition space, will be named the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery in their honor. The Mandel gift will also support the museum’s new visitor experience, physically and virtually, through new interactive experiences and increased digital access to the museum’s collection of 217,000 objects.

Barbara Mandel joined Cooper-Hewitt’s board in 1997 and has been a member of the museum’s executive committee since 1998. She has played an active role at Cooper-Hewitt, supporting numerous exhibitions, education programming, digital initiatives and the renovation. Most recently, she served on the executive search committee, which resulted in the appointment of Caroline Baumann as the museum’s fifth director.

“Barbara Mandel is a cornerstone of the museum’s board of trustees and her leadership has been a guiding force for the museum’s transformation,” said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. “Barbara and Mort’s generosity is truly enabling Cooper-Hewitt to deliver its mission and turn museum goers into designers.”

“Believing in design’s power to change, Barbara and Mort are visionaries who have supported our mission for almost two decades,” said Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper-Hewitt. “Their commitment has never been stronger as we start a thrilling new chapter. This extraordinary gift is a game changer for Cooper-Hewitt as we prepare for our grand opening, and it will improve every aspect of the museum from the visitor experience to accessing the collection. We are so grateful for Barbara and Mort’s support, which will have an incredible impact, broadening our audience by truly making design accessible to everyone.”

“Design empowers us on so many levels, and Mort and I are thrilled to support Cooper-Hewitt as it begins a new era,” said Barbara Mandel. “Having been on the board for 17 years, it is truly gratifying to see this organization expand physically and digitally. In preparation for the opening, we’ve made a quantum leap in terms of digital access to our extraordinary collection, which will be the backbone of our new visitor experience.”

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