Reopened in late 2014, after a three-year, $81 million overhaul, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is a slick, 21st-century museum in a century-old mansion. It marries old and new, digital and physical, and the result is an ornate, historic home (once the residence of industrialist Andrew Carnegie) outfitted with the latest technologies and amenities for a highly interactive experience. You don’t just look at design here; you play with it, engage it, and then take it home. On arrival at the museum, visitors receive a digital pen that acts as a key to the museum’s entire collection of more than 200,000 objects, everything from antique cutlery and Japanese sword fittings to robotics and animation. Museum highlights include giant touch-screen tables where visitors can summon random-yet-relevant items from the museum’s collection by drawing a squiggle or a shape; the Immersion Room, where visitors can view and save their favorite wallpapers from the museum’s incredible
collection or create their own designs (which can be projected onto the gallery walls); and the Process Lab where visitors get hands-on to solve design dilemmas and enhance everyday design objects. The focus on design and discovery extends to "SHOP," where limited-edition objects created in collaboration with contemporary designers and influenced by exhibitions are for sale. There is a café, too. Guided tours run daily at 11:30 and 1:30 on weekdays and 1 and 3 on weekends. Admission is pay-what-you-wish Saturday evening from 6 to 9.