Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 633
Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Committee to Save the Cooper Union Museum
Committee Records, 1963-1971, with related material from 1932
On June 25, 1963, the president and Board of Trustees of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art announced their plans to close the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration. They temporarily closed the Museum in order to study the possibilities of dispersing the collections to other New York institutions. These actions aroused much comment in the press and among art patrons.
On July 9, 1963, the Committee to Save the Cooper Union Museum announced its formation to the Trustees of the Cooper Union. The Committee was chaired by Henry F. duPont, and eventually numbered 260 members. The Committee raised funds to form a charitable trust, and on September 17 it offered to assume responsibility for the Museum from the Cooper Union. However, in November the Trustees accepted an offer by the American Association of Museums (AAM) to form a committee of advisors to aid in the study of the Museum's future. Shortly thereafter, the Museum was reopened to the public.
On behalf of the Committee to Save the Cooper Union Museum, duPont asked the Smithsonian Institution to become responsible for the Museum. The AAM committee substantially endorsed duPont's proposal. On October 9, 1967, the Committee, the Trustees of the Cooper Union, and the Smithsonian jointly announced an agreement that the Museum and its library would be transferred to the Institution. The Committee to Save the Cooper Union Museum remained in existence to maintain the Cooper Union Museum Charitable Trust.
These files were assembled by the management and staff of the Cooper Union Museum, and later the Cooper Hewitt Museum, to document their activities during discussions about the Museum's future and its transfer from the Cooper Union to the Smithsonian Institution from 1963 to 1970. The records contain correspondence and memoranda of Museum Directors Lisa Taylor, Richard P. Wunder, and Calvin S. Hathaway; Administrator Christian Rohlfing; and Associate Curator of Exhibitions Edward Kallop reflecting their interaction with the Cooper Union administration, the Committee to Save the Cooper Union Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, and other museum professionals during the period. Also included are press releases, minutes of meetings, lists of Committee members, and information about funds raised by the Committee. In addition, the records contain copies of legal and technical documents regarding the transfer.
The Museum's relationship with the Smithsonian from 1932 to 1968, and with the Smithsonian's National Collection of Fine Arts from 1965 to 1971, is documented through files containing correspondence, memoranda, newsletters, press clippings, and invitations exchanged by administrators and curators of each institution regarding museum business.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Taylor, Lisa, 1933-1991
- Wunder, Richard P.
- Hathaway, Calvin S.
- Rohlfing, H. Christian
- Kallop, Edward L.
- DuPont, Henry Francis, 1880-
- Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration
- Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
- National Collection of Fine Arts (U.S.)
- American Association of Museums
- Cooper-Hewitt Museum
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 633, Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Committee to Save the Cooper Union Museum, Committee Records