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HomeModern House PlanMaria Nicanor is tapped to guide the Cooper Hewitt

Maria Nicanor is tapped to guide the Cooper Hewitt


Manhattan’s Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has had a tough couple of years. The Higher West Aspect artwork and structure museum shut down in March of 2020 alongside different New York establishments to stymie the unfold of COVID-19, however solely reopened in June of 2021, a lot later than its friends.

Proper earlier than a worldwide pandemic struck, although, the museum discovered itself within the information when former director Caroline Baumann resigned in February of 2020 after a New York Instances expose that questioned whether or not Baumann had improperly used her place to barter wedding ceremony gown reductions and particular venue privileges. On the time, six of the museum’s 27 board of trustees members resigned in protest over how Baumann was handled, with some questioning whether or not misogyny was at play within the allegations.

Baumann started working on the Cooper Hewitt in 2001 and was named its director in 2013, seeing the establishment via a rebrand by Pentagram and the $91 million renovation of its Carnegie Mansion location by Gluckman Mayner Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle.

Maria Nicanor in a headshot
Maria Nicanor (Christine McLaren)

At this time, nevertheless, there’s some excellent news. The Cooper Hewitt has named structure and design curator and historian Maria Nicanor as its new director, efficient March 21. John Davis, Smithsonian Provost, and former Performing Beneath Secretary for Training Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar served as interim administrators from 2020 via 2022.

Nicanor is at the moment the manager director of the Rice Design Alliance (RDA) at Rice College’s College of Structure, a place she has held since 2017. Because the Cooper Hewitt famous in its announcement, Nicanor noticed the RDA via a turbulent interval of operations and fundraising whereas navigating the transition to digital content material throughout the pandemic.

“I’m grateful and deeply honored to hitch the distinctive staff at Cooper Hewitt,” Nicanor mentioned within the announcement. “Becoming a member of the Smithsonian household and constructing upon Cooper Hewitt’s previous successes offers the chance to convey collectively the three most vital pillars of my profession: design and structure, public service and museum work. We are able to’t ignore that it’s a very sophisticated time for museums basically proper now. Not simply what we do, however how we do it, for whom and with whom, are important questions for design museums to contemplate.”

Earlier than her tenure at RDA, Nicanor was the inaugural director of the Norman Foster Basis in her residence metropolis of Madrid and beforehand held a number of totally different positions on the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from 2005 to 2013.

“Maria has a powerful ardour for design and an intensive understanding of the influence it has on our shared future,” added Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian. “Her imaginative and prescient and management will assist Cooper Hewitt attain much more audiences throughout the nation and all over the world.”

Because the museum notes, Nicanor’s appointment coincides with the museum’s one hundred and twenty fifth  anniversary and the establishment at the moment has a slate of exhibitions operating, together with in the actual world and a digital model of Willi Smith: Avenue Couture from 2020.



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