As the only American museum dedicated to historical and contemporary design, New York City’s Cooper Hewitt Museum is taking an innovative approach to digitizing their collection. The eclectic collection, which is part of the Smithsonian, contains everything from drawings and etchings to shopping bags and greeting cards. Now, it has more than 200,000 objects available to the public online.
Of course, it’s possible to search the archive by type, date, and country, but our favorite feature is one befitting of a design museum—the ability to search by color. That’s right, when you decide to search by color, you are asked to choose one of 117 CSS4 colors that have been paired with objects in the collection. With the press of a button you’re then given a list of every object corresponding with that color and each individual entry includes a palette that shows which colors are present in the piece. For added fun, they also allow searching by Crayola colors, so if you want to see what matches your Electric Lime crayon, now you can.
Apart from object scans, the museum also has a vast video resource that will delight any design lover. You can watch a talk on 1920s fashion, learn how Brompton manufactures bicycles, or see the opening credits from favorite TV series like True Detective. What’s more, if you want a bit of design every day, you can sign up to receive the museum’s Object of the Day direct to your inbox and get interesting tidbits about the collection’s quirky items.
The digitization of the Cooper Hewitt collection, which took just 18 months with an average of 600 objects a day going online, is part of the Smithsonian’s ongoing process to “create a digital Smithsonian.”