Design museum director Dr Paul Thompson has been appointed as the new director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. But he insists London still has the edge as a world design centre.
No departure date from The Design Museum has yet been set, but Thompson hopes to take up his new position early next year. He intends to increase the profile of the New York museum. “The Cooper-Hewitt is a great resource, but something of a hidden jewel. I want to make it better known and more widely used,” he says. “It should connect New York’s design fraternity, and be its networking centre and watering hole.”
He replaces Dianne Pilgrim, who retired in January, and will report to Smithsonian under-secretary Sheila Burke. She describes Thompson as a “man of vision” who will put the museum “on the map”.
According to Thompson, his move is not part of a “brain drain” to New York of the UK’s creative talent, adding that London is still a magnet for world-class designers. “London has the edge over New York in the design world,” he says. “You could call it the Tate Modern effect.” He cites car giant Ford’s decision to open a design studio, designed by Sir Richard Rogers, in London’s Soho as further evidence of London’s design status.
A Design Museum spokeswoman says the decision on Thompson’s replacement is down to the museum’s board of trustees.
Director of the Design Museum since 1992, Thompson previously served as a curator. He has also worked as a scriptwriter and researcher for the Design Council.