I’ve been eager to try out the new Pen at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. Here are my impressions!
It’s quite hefty but very comfortable to hold and use. Even kids have no problem with it.
Once I got into the galleries having the Pen gave me a sense of freedom, and power. Freedom, because I could “grab” anything for later viewing and therefore didn’t need to spend a lot of time looking at the objects – which was helpful since I didn’t have much time; Power, because I could “have” anything in the displays that piqued my interest. I felt a little like a kid in a candy store.
Happily I went along matching the cross hairs on my pen tip to the cross hairs on the labels of each object I wanted to take home with me: See it, Match cross hairs, See the little strip of 3 lights turn green and it’s saved.
My collection includes this model of a giant tunnel boring machine, ( the real one was used for cutting through solid rock to create the Second Avenue Subway tunnel), and a delicate chart made of sticks loosely tied together, used by Marshall Island sailors to understand ocean swells and currents far, far off shore.
Having been inspired by Eva Zeisel’s elegant silverware on the first floor, I decided to try my hand at designing a fork. I hoped that choosing gold as the material to make it in would somehow elevate my very primitive result. You can judge for yourself – I saved it with the Pen and prepared to leave.
Returning the Pen to the station to transfer my collection to my specific URL worked easily. The URL had been pre-printed on my entry ticket so when I got home I typed it into my browser and voilá, there were the 26 things I had collected and the one I had designed.
This is where in some ways, the real fun begins. Part of the pleasure of the experience comes from the way the Cooper Hewitt collections portal itself is designed. It has such a friendly feel to it, and it couldn’t be simpler to navigate the links related to your object, without losing your place.
The descriptions are almost wikipedia-like, linking to so many different places on the collections portal. Each object description offers access to other relevant items in the collection, based on artist, material, donor, date of donation, country of origin, colors and more. In addition, the site remembers you after you’ve logged in and set up your account so you can bookmark the page for easy access later.
I can’t get the amazing stick navigation chart out of my mind. I want to go back and see it in person.