NEW YORK -- Lisa Taylor, who transformed the Cooper Union museum collection into the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design, died Friday in the Bahamas after a long illness at 58, her family said.
Taylor was the first woman director of a Smithsonian museum, whose design branch is known as the Cooper-Hewitt Museum.
She headed the Cooper-Hewitt from 1969 when it was the museum collection at Cooper Union, a free university in Manhattan, until 1987 when it was well-established as one of the world's major centers for the display and study of design.
Taylor was trained as a painter, ceramist and calligrapher and was also a filmmaker and photogapher. She began her career at the Smithsonian in 1966 as program director at the institution's museum complex in Washington. When the Smithsonian acquired the Cooper Museum holdings, she assembled a staff and began fund-raising for a permanent home for the collection in New York.
Taylor presented 175 exhibitions at the museum, some devoted to such odd subjects as hair, shopping bags, and reading and writing, others to such major subjects as art moderne in Vienna and Dutch expressionist architecture.
The original collection gathered by pioneer industrialist Peter Cooper's granddaughters was greatly enlarged during her adminsitration.
Taylor also was the originator of the annual 'Museum Mile' cultural festival on upper Fifth Avenue, now in its 13th year.
She is survived by her husband, Bertrand L. Taylor III and two children, Lauren and Lindsay. Since her illness she had been living in Naples, Fla.