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Dorothy Dunn
OHNY Board Member
Lives in Dobb Ferry, NY

1. Are you a native New Yorker? If not, when and why did you move here?

I come from the Midwest and grew up on a farm in Illinois. It’s in the middle of nowhere, wonderfully so, in a little town called Paris, IL. My family moved from Chicago to the country as part of the “back to the land movement.” The farm will be 200 years old in a few years and is the oldest farm in the state.

I moved to New York in 1989 to work in the education department at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. My whole portal to New York City was through the architecture and design community.

2. Do you have a favorite place/neighborhood in the city?

I don’t have a favorite. I love it all! I will never stop feeling like an explorer in New York. Even in a neighborhood I think I know I’ll see something new all the time. Things like the High Line change your view of a neighborhood. It was something we saw structurally for years and now we see that whole neighborhood anew.

3. What does OHNY mean to you? 

When Scott Lauer, the founder of OHNY, first shared his idea with me it was just after 9/11. At that time, I, like many others, was sad to see the city become a bunker, security being on the top of everyone’s mind rather than what’s exciting and dynamic about the city. This wonderful, young architect had this idea of turning the city inside out and inviting everyone in. It was like a big hug for the community.

4. Why is OHNY important to New York City?

I’ve worked for years in design education and I know that there’s a language that designers and architects speak. Often, if you don’t know that language, you don’t feel like you are welcome. OHNY has put architecture and design forward without the architects-speak. I don’t know another organization that represents architecture and design that has been so open and inclusive, not only in regards to the participants but also to the spaces themselves, so anyone could share any space and it would be embraced. In that sense, OHNY has been a great community builder.

5. How and when did you first learn about OHNY?

I learned about it before it even existed. I was director of education at Cooper-Hewitt and Scott Lauer was knocking on doors to get responses about starting OHNY. We connected and I was very inspired by his vision.

6. What has been your favorite OHNY site or program?

The OHNY Weekend itself is remarkable, almost overwhelming. During this year’s OHNY Weekend, my husband and I had one of the best “date days” we have had in a long time. We visited Flushing in Queens, a neighborhood that neither of us knew at all. It was absolutely enlightening. It made me so happy to get to know that neighborhood and explore.

7. If OHNY could grant you a New York City all-access pass, where would you go first?

When people visit New York City, I tell them to go as high up as you can and look down, go underneath the city and appreciate how much of the city is underground and get out on the water and look in on the city to see that this small island is surrounded by a much larger region. That’s where I would start.

8. Who is your favorite architect/designer/artist in the city?

I love them all and I’m inspired by all of them. I’ve been so honored and lucky to shape a career that allows me to work with artists and architects and designers, not being one myself. My career has been in museums but I’ve been fortunate to see and appreciate the world through the point of view of architecture and design.

9. It goes without saying that we all love New York City. What do you find most inspiring about the city?

It’s the daily journey, the constant sense of exploration and discovery. New York is an adventure. That, and the people who I share it with are most inspirational to me.

10. In one sentence, why should people support OHNY? 

People should support OHNY because it is an extremely generous and democratic organization that turns the city inside out and invites everyone to share in the experience and discovery.

Thanks, Dorothy!

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