Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

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COOPER UNION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE AND ART. Opened in 1859 as a multipurpose civic institution by the philanthropist Peter Cooper, the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art has housed a number of schools, museums, and organizations. Its original plan included the largest free public reading room in New York City, as well as the incorporation of the existing New York Female School of Design, night schools of science and art, and several scientific and natural history exhibits. Cooper was most proud of his plan for the Great Hall, modeled on Boston's Lowell Institute, which hosted many important public occasions, including Abraham Lincoln's "Right Makes Might" speech in 1860. A radical Unitarian, Peter Cooper mandated that all of the institution's educational functions were to be free of any exclusion on the basis of religion, race, or the ability to pay.

Over time Cooper Union relinquished some of its roles to other public and private agencies, though it started the Museum for the Arts of Decoration (now the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution) and, in 1901, a day program in technical science that became what is now its School of Engineering and Science. Between 1898 and 1934 most of the public programs were organized by the People's Institute. The Cooper Union remains a full scholarship college offering undergraduate degrees in art, architecture, and engineering, as well as providing a continuing education program and public events in its Great Hall.


Krasnick, Phyllis D. "Peter Cooper and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art." Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1985.


See alsoEducation, Higher: Colleges and Universities .

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Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, accredited institution of higher education; in New York City; coeducational; chartered and opened in 1859. Founded by Peter Cooper, it pioneered in evening engineering and art schools; day schools were added in 1900. Today it includes schools of engineering, art, and architecture, a division of adult education, and a faculty of humanities and social sciences. A new academic building located at Cooper Square in the East Village and designed by Thom Mayne opened in 2009. The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, was founded in 1897 as part of Cooper Union by Sarah, Eleanor, and Amy Hewitt, granddaughters of Peter Cooper. Since 1967 the museum, still located in New York City, has been a division of the Smithsonian Institution.