Published: September 11, 2012
Bill Moggridge, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum since 2010, died September 8, following a battle with cancer. He was 69 years old. Designer of the first laptop computer and co-founder of IDEO, the innovation and design firm, Moggridge pioneered interaction design and integrated human factors into the design of computer software and hardware.
“All of us at the Smithsonian mourn the loss of a great friend, leader and design mind,” said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. “In his two short years as director of Cooper-Hewitt, Bill transformed the museum into the Smithsonian’s design lens on the world, and we are forever grateful for his extraordinary leadership and contributions.”
As Cooper-Hewitt’s fourth director, Moggridge oversaw the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. In this role, he worked to establish the museum as the preeminent national design resource, enhance its profile as one of the world’s leading authorities on the role of design in everyday life and develop and present exhibitions †both real and virtual.
“During his tenure, Bill led the museum to the highest exhibition attendance numbers on record, pioneered bringing design into the K‱2 classroom and dramatically increased digital access to the collection through vehicles like the Google Art Project,” said Richard Kurin, Smithsonian under secretary for history, art and culture. “His innovative vision for the future of the museum will be realized upon reopening, and his foresight will impact museum visitors and design thinkers of tomorrow. He will be greatly missed.”
“Bill’s death is a tremendous loss to the Cooper-Hewitt family,” said Paul Herzan, chairman of the board of trustees. “We will all continue to work together to see that his strategic vision is implemented. As a designer, Bill set in motion a retelling of the story of design †its place in history and future possibilities †within the bold and interactive context of a renovated Cooper-Hewitt campus.”
“Beloved by the museum staff and the design community at large, Bill touched the lives of so many through his wise council, boundary-pushing ideas and cheerful camaraderie,” said Caroline Baumann, associate director of the museum. “A true team builder and convener by nature, his efforts at Cooper-Hewitt and throughout the design world will be forever remembered.”
Moggridge joined Cooper-Hewitt at a critical juncture, as the museum is enhancing its exhibition and visitor facilities with a fully fundraised $54 million program to increase exhibition space by 60 percent, create a new National Design Library, restore the Carnegie Mansion’s historic structure and accommodate growth of its permanent collection with a new off-site collection-storage and conservation facility.
Phase One of the renovation project, involving work on the museum’s two townhouses, was completed in 2011 and includes the new National Design Library, an additional classroom, administrative and curatorial offices, and a new staff and public entrance from 9 East 90th Street. Phase Two, renovation of the Carnegie Mansion, commenced in 2012, and the new Cooper-Hewitt will reopen in 2014.
Moggridge succeeded Paul Thompson, who was Cooper-Hewitt’s director for eight years. Associate Director Caroline Baumann will serve as the acting director.
Moggridge is survived by his wife of 47 years, Karin, and two sons, Alex and Erik.
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