Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Thank you. Now, let’s begin.

March 10th, 2015 by Seb Chan

The final chunk of the new Cooper Hewitt finally birthed today.

The first visitor from the general public got to use The Pen as a part of their visit shortly after 10am. And, perhaps representative of the audience shift the museum has made, it was a parent with a small child.

A photo posted by Cooper Hewitt (@cooperhewitt) on

It has been a huge effort and everyone involved has done incredible work – my immediate crew, the rest of Cooper Hewitt, Local Projects, Sistelnetworks, GE Design, Undercurrent, MakeSimply, Ideum and Tellart. Beyond the talented public faces of these partners – and definitely beyond me – it is the highly technical people writing code late into the night; the graphic, industrial, media and interaction designers toiling away to make just ‘one more improvement’; the engineers testing and fixing things that ‘weren’t supposed to go wrong’; the IT folks keeping the lights on and the network pipes flowing; and the assemblers on the assembly line, who really deserve the praise for what has been achieved here.

Critical, too, has been the ‘venture philanthropy’ provided by Bloomberg through their Bloomberg Connects program. We pitched a ‘holistic’ and ‘bleeding edge’ concept for a program that had previously only funded audio and multimedia guides/apps and they didn’t blink.

By now, I’m sure regular readers have already seen the longform piece in The Atlantic on my team. Of all the press that the new Cooper Hewitt has gotten, and probably will get for a little while longer, it is this one that I think properly grasped what and why we did what we did. Even after my team disbands, changes, transforms – as inevitably it will, everyone involved should be very proud of what they’ve done.

Its remarkable really.

What Aaron said at the end of that Atlantic piece is important – “[We’re] the Smithsonian. We should be that good”.

But we know it is far from perfect. And so, in the great tradition of a digital product launches – now the real work starts.

Tags: 1 Comment

  • Congratulations Seb, to you and all the people you mention in the blog. I love how the first public user(s) of The Pen are a mother and child. It almost feels like you casted them for the job :-)