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Freshmen Trip to the Cooper Hewitt Museum

Lucy Brenner

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Each year, the freshman studio art classes venture into New York City with packets and pencils in hand to complete their final project.  They flock to the Cooper Hewitt, an art and design museum on the Upper East Side, to see collections ranging from simple, elegant Japonism to rotating prototypes and models.  With such a broad selection, the museum appeals to all types of people and interests.  Founded in 1897, the Cooper Hewitt is the only museum in the country devoted solely to historic and contemporary design.  The museum’s unique and engaging collection of art make it the perfect place for SHS students to visit.  

The museum offers hands-on projects and simulations that appeal to students.  The Immersion Room has become a hotspot for SHS freshmen.  This exhibit allows visitors to use a digital stylus pen to design their own patterns, which are then projected onto the surrounding walls.  SHS art students have demonstrated the activity’s popularity through posting an abundance of photos of their creations on Instagram.  The balance of learning and fun create an excellent atmosphere for freshman to pose for a photo-op while taking in the creativity and imagination of their peers.

For their final assignment, students must answer a variety questions regarding the art in the museum.  Also, they are tasked to complete several hands-on art activities on the high-tech touch screens within the Cooper Hewitt.  One portion asks students to design a piece of furniture for their home.  The twist?  The furniture must be inspired by a part of the human body.  “My favorite part of the museum was the station where you could design your own furniture on an interactive touch screen table. For the assignment, we were required to draw a chair or lamp inspired by muscles, nerves, or fat, and it was really fun for me to be creative with my design,” noted Danielle Kohn ’21.  These unique assignments push students to tap into the creative sides and to think outside of the box, fostering an educational yet enjoyable project.

Although the specifics of the assignment vary each year, one factor always remains constant: the enriching experience of the project’s hands-on, immersive atmosphere.  “I definitely would return to the museum if it wasn’t a school assignment, because I missed a lot of what the museum had to offer since I was only focussing on my assignment. There was one exhibition called ‘Access+Ability’ that I never got the opportunity to see, and I would love to go back to visit it,” added Kohn.  While many students view art museums as boring and dull, the Cooper Hewitt starkly contrasts that common perception.  Its mixture of learning and engagement provides for the ideal art assignment for SHS students, producing a love for art within many.

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Freshmen Trip to the Cooper Hewitt Museum