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Manhattan Color Walk and The Senses: Design Beyond Vision at Cooper Hewitt

Updated: Jun 22, 2018

After Curious G’s Brooklyn Forest School class in Central Park on Tuesday, we walked up Fifth Avenue to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. We wanted to check out the Manhattan Color Walk by Color Factory in the Arthur Ross Garden and Terrace outside of the museum, then head inside to explore.


Manhattan Color Walk

The garden and terrace can be accessed via the entrance on 91st Street right off of Fifth Avenue, and is free to the public to enter. It was a beautiful day, and we wound up hanging out in the garden for almost two hours. After enjoying gelato from the museum’s Tarallucci e Vino Café, we took a spin on the red Herman Miller Magis Spun chairs and tried out the other fun woven chairs (all apart of the M’Afrique Collection by Moroso). Curious G was particularly taken by the Reii Garden bench, which she enjoyed climbing into and pretending that she was a caterpillar in her cocoon. She did this a few times, ending this practice with a lap around the lawn while flapping her butterfly wings. There were many kids in the garden on Tuesday afternoon, so she managed to find two little girls to play caterpillar/butterfly with. She also tried her hand at ping pong when a very kind boy took a moment to teach her how it’s done.


Mommy and Me Gelato

Taking the Spun Chair for a spin

Once a caterpillar...

emerging from her cocoon

Fly away, little butterfly


First time playing ping pong

The Manhattan Color Walk is the end result of Color Factory designers walking and biking over 50 miles throughout Manhattan while taking photos of various parts of the city. The photos were translated into the path of colors in the garden, and designed to bring all the different neighborhoods together through its colors. Certain colors on the path are labeled with the street and item that they were derived from. For example, there is stripe of soft lavender from a deli flower on 72nd Street and a gray stripe that represents a Fifth Avenue doorman’s uniform. The museum provides a pamphlet with a description and photos of the colors' origins.


We live in a colorful city

Zipping up and down the rainbow

And now, a look inside the museum...

After Curious G’s new friends left the garden, we decided to go into the museum. It was closing in less than an hour by the time we had reached the admissions desk (the gift shop and interactive screens throughout the museum were a bit of a distraction on our way to the desk), so the nice lady at the desk gave us a free pass. The admission for adults is normally $18 ($16 prepaid online) and children under 18 are free. Unfortunately, we did not get a “magic pen” that allows visitors to access the interactive screens throughout the museum and even access the saved interactions by logging into the museum’s site after the visit. However, we did have time to explore the “Hear, See, Play: Designing with Sound” exhibit where Curious G pressed buttons that created a myriad of different sounds. We used our five senses throughout the interactive exhibit “The Senses: Design Beyond Vision”, ran through the “Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color” exhibit, and created interactive wallpaper in the Immersion Room (which was pretty much the same as the Polypaint exhibit at MoMath.


Outside of the amazing gift shop

Using her five senses

These "snowballs" smelled like a spa experience with notes of green pine

Feathers flying up from the feather fountain

The Tactile Symphony played music whenever we ran our hands through the fur

Designing With Sound exhibit

The guard told us that earlier in the day, these sound bot stations were swarming with kids on camp field trips

The Allure and Science of Color

Wallpaper wizardry in the Immersion Room

Cooper Hewitt also hosts summer performances and cocktails in the garden, and other events. This coming Saturday they are hosting a Summer Solstice scavenger hunt in the garden!

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