The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center

The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center The Lemelson Center has been leading the study of invention and innovation at the Smithsonian since 1995. Terms: http://www.si.edu/Termsofuse.

Welcome to the Lemelson Center's page! Please feel free to share thoughts about our posts or ask us questions. Although on-topic discussion is encouraged, we ask that you express yourself in a civil manner and treat other users with respect. The Smithsonian also monitors and may remove posts consistent with its terms of use, as described at http://si.edu/Termsofuse#user-gen. For our Privacy Policy: http://www.si.edu/Privacy The Smithsonian’s Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation’s activities advance scholarship on the history of invention, share stories about inventors and their work, and nurture creativity in young people. The Lemelson Center embodies a philosophy akin to that of the inventors we study, of valuing creativity and embracing the potential rewards of intellectual risk-taking. The Center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy established by one of the country’s most prolific inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The Lemelson Center is located in the National Museum of American History. The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Spark!Lab are on the First Floor, West Wing of the Museum.

Mission: The Lemelson Center's mission is to: Document, interpret, and disseminate information about invention and innovation. Encourage inventive creativity in young people. Foster an appreciation for the central role of invention and innovation in the history of the United States.

Operating as usual

Many museum curators at National Museum of American History have been apart from the collections they tend to for severa...
10/22/2020
From Innovators to Curators, Making Do is Nothing New

Many museum curators at National Museum of American History have been apart from the collections they tend to for several months due to health and safety precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. While working from home since March 2020, one curator noticed herself creating new uses her things—an ironing board serves as a desk, a table clock becomes a support to prop up a phone—for example.

In our latest guest blog post written by the museum's Curator of Mathematics, read about how alterations to an object's intended uses can make us newly aware of the ways in which those who created and used objects took advantage of what they found available.

Continue reading here: https://invention.si.edu/innovators-curators-making-do-nothing-new

A teleworking curator looks at the ways in which those who created and used objects took advantage of what they found available.

TONIGHT at 7pm EDT:Monica Smith, Head of Exhibitions and Interpretation at the Lemelson Center, will share primary and s...
09/24/2020
Playful Invention, Inventive Play

TONIGHT at 7pm EDT:
Monica Smith, Head of Exhibitions and Interpretation at the Lemelson Center, will share primary and secondary research she and her colleagues conducted about connections among invention, play, creativity, and child development to create the award-winning exhibition Invention at Play (IAP). IAP's successes and lessons learned helped inform the initial development of the Lemelson Center’s Spark!Lab, which in turn led to the Spark!Lab National Network. Register now to receive the Zoom link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/playful-invention-inventive-play-tickets-117018921745

Join us for this new virtual program!

Reopening announcement: The National Museum of American History will be open Fridays through Tuesdays 11:00 a.m.–4 p.m. ...
09/23/2020
Etix.com | Find and Buy Event Tickets

Reopening announcement: The National Museum of American History will be open Fridays through Tuesdays 11:00 a.m.–4 p.m. beginning September 25. Reserve your free timed-entry pass and review our latest visitor safety guidelines here: https://americanhistory.si.edu/visit

Draper Spark!Lab will remain temporarily closed. Want to invent at home? Check out the DO Try This at Home section of our website: https://invention.si.edu/try/do-try-home

Find and buy tickets online for Live Music, Concerts, Sports, Fairs, Festivals, Theater & Arts | Etix

The air is a little chillier in the District of Columbia this week as summer comes to an end, but it's not over yet! If ...
09/16/2020
The Making of the Iconic Plastic Pink Lawn Flamingo

The air is a little chillier in the District of Columbia this week as summer comes to an end, but it's not over yet!
If you're in the mood to hang on to the last days of swimming pools, sunscreen, palm trees, and other summer motifs, we've got a blog post for you.
Read the invention story of the iconic pink plastic lawn flamingo, a classic American fixture of summer lawns: https://invention.si.edu/making-iconic-plastic-pink-lawn-flamingo

A look at the ersatz bird that became a barometer of taste.

“I invent when it’s something I really want. The need has to grow in your gut. People who go around trying to invent som...
09/10/2020
Sports Innovator Howard Head

“I invent when it’s something I really want. The need has to grow in your gut. People who go around trying to invent something generally fall on their tails. The best inventions come from people who are deeply involved in trying to solve a problem.” -Howard Head, sports innovator.

Howard Head, who first tried downhill skiing in 1947, felt frustrated by how difficult it was to use the equipment. And when he tried tennis in 1971? He had the same uncomfortable experience with using equipment that just didn't feel fun.

The story of the engineer behind the revolutionary Head skis and Prince tennis rackets is now live on our blog! Read more here: https://invention.si.edu/sports-innovator-howard-head

#InnovativeLives #WhatWillYouInvent

The engineer behind Head skis and Prince tennis rackets revolutionized both sports.

Need some new suggestions for your summer reading list? Since 1996, our fellowship program has supported the research of...
08/19/2020
New Books by Lemelson Center Alumni Fellows

Need some new suggestions for your summer reading list?

Since 1996, our fellowship program has supported the research of approximately 80 scholars by facilitating access to the vast invention and technology collections of the National Museum of American History. Several of our alumni fellows have recently published or have forthcoming books based, in part, on research conducted during their Lemelson Center fellowship residencies.

Check out our reading-roundup here: https://invention.si.edu/new-books-lemelson-center-alumni-fellows

Add these books to your summer reading list!

07/15/2020

We are saddened to report the recent passing of Ananda M. Chakrabarty, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Immunology. Our condolences are with his loved ones.

One of Dr. Chakrabarty's many contributions to his field was his then-novel problem of patenting a living cell, which then lead to the famous 1980 US Supreme Court decision in the case called “Diamond vs Chakrabarty.” The case opened the door for subsequent patenting of recombinant microbes as well as higher organisms.

Only a few weeks ago (on June 17, 2020), we co-hosted a multi-speaker webcast with Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property on the 40th anniversary of this ruling, during which we had the fortunate opportunity to hear directly from Dr. Chakrabarty.
We invite you to view the recording here: http://ow.ly/VCT050Azi76

Join us online tomorrow, Wednesday, June 24 at 12:30 PM ET for the global premiere of "12 Game Changing Stadiums," a col...
06/23/2020
The Way Back: Designing Stadiums for the Future | SportTechie

Join us online tomorrow, Wednesday, June 24 at 12:30 PM ET for the global premiere of "12 Game Changing Stadiums," a collaborative production between the Lemelson Center and SportTechie!

What innovations did stadiums get right? Which ones missed their mark? What will be the next great stadium innovations in the years to come? In this special episode of SportTechie's "The Way Back" series, audience members will be the first to watch the short-form film addressing these questions. Following the premiere, an expert panel of historians, architects, and sports media professionals will discuss why these 12 stadiums were selected for their innovations and explore the future of stadium design and construction, during and post-COVID.

Don't miss this opportunity to find out which stadiums made our list and have your questions answered live by experts in the field! Register here: https://app.livestorm.co/p/ffbcd9f3-117f-40d9-9ca8-80a99aa05ea5

Wednesday, June 24 | 12:30 PM ETThis week we’ll show the world premiere of 12 Game-Changing Stadiums in History, a short-form video presented by the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of I...

06/19/2020
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Juneteenth is a time to celebrate, gather as a family, reflect on the past and look to the future. The National Museum of African American History and Culture invites you to engage in your history and discover ways to celebrate this holiday. Join us today for an online celebration of #Juneteenth! Enjoy a discussion of the Juneteenth holiday led by the Museum’s Oral Historian, a genealogy exercise, and a tale celebrating the ancestors: nmaahc.si.edu/events/juneteenth

Beginning our celebration with Lift Every Voice and Sing, covered by Rochelle Rice. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was originally a poem, written by James Weldon Johnson. The poem was set to music by Johnson's brother, and later adopted as the official song by the NAACP. It is commonly known as the Negro National Anthem.

06/16/2020
Patents on Life: Diamond v. Chakrabarty at 40

40 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Diamond v. Chakrabarty authorized the first patent on an intentionally genetically modified organism and concluded that patents may be granted for “anything under the sun that is made by man.”

How did the rise of patented, GMO crops change farming? How did the Supreme Court’s decision change the patent system? How did developments in biotechnology reshape America’s innovation system?

Join us tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. EDT for PATENTS ON LIFE: DIAMOND V. CHAKRABARTY AT 40, a live webcast of expert panelists, to explore the breakthroughs in agricultural biotechnology and the impacts, both economic and environmental, 40 years after this historical decision.

We will take questions through the web portal following brief opening presentations and an initial discussion among the panelists. No registration required, click here to join: https://invention.si.edu/about/events/patents-life-diamond-v-chakrabarty-40

Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 1 – 2:30pm In June 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Diamond v.

Statement From Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch
05/31/2020
Statement From Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch

Statement From Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch

Like many Americans, watching multiple incidents of deadly violence against black people unfold before our eyes has left us feeling demoralized and distraught, aghast, and angry. Not only have we been forced to grapple with the impact of a global pandemic, we have been forced to confront the reality...

Invent a Musical Instrument, Reinvent the Shopping Cart, Design a Spacecraft, Design a Stadium, and Help Clean Up the Oc...
04/29/2020
SparkLab_SI

Invent a Musical Instrument, Reinvent the Shopping Cart, Design a Spacecraft, Design a Stadium, and Help Clean Up the Ocean.

While that may read like quite an ambitious "To Do" list, it's actually a list of Spark!Lab activities that have gone digital!

To continue providing daily opportunities for children and families to explore their inventive creativity while museum spaces are closed indefinitely, Spark!Lab in collaboration with Autodesk, the software provider for people who make things, has launched a no-cost virtual online experience for invention activities. Check it out, and let us know #WhatWillYouInvent

https://www.instructables.com/member/SparkLab_SI/

Spark!Lab is a hands -on invention studio in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Spark!Lab activities communicate that invention is a process, rather than a single “Aha!” moment; provide visitors with opportunities to explore the invention process and their own inventiveness; ...

04/24/2020
Virginia Tech STS

Happening now! Tune in to this live discussion, and hear from Lemelson Center Director Arthur Daemmrich who will be speaking about vaccine development from both historical and present contexts.

STS Approaches to COVID-19: A Roundtable Discussion

The panel:
· Jenny Reardon (UCSC, Sociology and the Science and Justice Research Center)
· Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter, Philosophy and History of Science)
· Rebecca Hester (Virginia Tech, STS)
· Arthur Daemmrich (Smithsonian Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation)
· asynchronous video appearance by Carlo Caduff (Kings College London, Global Health & Social Medicine)
· Saul Halfon (Virginia Tech, STS) as Moderator

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation

"In honor of the 50th anniversary of #EarthDay, and the 50th anniversary of Smithsonian Magazine, the staff of Smithsoni...
04/22/2020
Fifty Things We’ve Learned About the Earth Since the First Earth Day

"In honor of the 50th anniversary of #EarthDay, and the 50th anniversary of Smithsonian Magazine, the staff of Smithsonian magazine challenged scientists, historians, researchers, astrophysicists, curators and research scholars across the Smithsonian Institution to identify something about the planet that has been revealed over the past 50 years."

Read about fifty things we've learned about Earth since the first Earth Day (💡especially the contributions written by our very own Lemelson Center historians and researchers!):
That Plastics Are Not the Savior We Were Looking For; That a Problem as Big as the Ozone Hole Could be Solved; and That Cross-Cultural Solutions Can Offer Concrete Benefits.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/fifty-things-weve-learned-about-earth-first-earth-day-180974716/?no-cache

On April 22, 1970, Americans pledged environmental action for the planet. Here’s what scientists and we, the global community, have done since

"Learning about these games triggered a childhood memory of the Mount St. Helens Volcano Game that my aunt, who lived in...
04/14/2020
Disaster Board Games

"Learning about these games triggered a childhood memory of the Mount St. Helens Volcano Game that my aunt, who lived in Washington State, sent to my sister and me shortly after that natural disaster in May 1980. Despite the real life death and destruction, I remember having fun playing the game as I raced along the board trying to avoid mud, lava flows, and ash plumes to reach the crater."

New on our blog: Our writer explores how board game inventions can help us cope with crises, and asks what board games we would invent during difficult times: https://invention.si.edu/disaster-board-games

Board game inventions can help us cope with crises.

"Before Oculus Rift made virtual reality a reality, there was the humble stereoscope, invented in the 1830s by British s...
04/06/2020
10 Cultural Craft Projects to Calm Your Cooped-Up Kids

"Before Oculus Rift made virtual reality a reality, there was the humble stereoscope, invented in the 1830s by British scientist Charles Wheatstone. The handheld device produces an illusion of depth, so photographs placed inside resemble 3-D views of real life. The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, part of the Smithsonian Institution, walks you through the process of making stereoscopes and stereographs. With plenty of vintage images available on the Internet, look forward to hours of eye-opening fun."

Museums around the world have created new ways to play from home.

Spark!Lab
03/30/2020
Spark!Lab

Spark!Lab

Ready to get this week started? We may be at home, but that doesn't mean our creativity needs to stay inside! We put together a page called "DO Try This at Home" with #SparkLab activities to keep your young inventors thinking it, exploring it, sketching it, creating it, trying it, tweaking it and selling it.
Check it out: https://invention.si.edu/try/do-try-home

We may be at home, but we can still bring Smithsonian resources to you! This thread by National Museum of American Histo...
03/30/2020

We may be at home, but we can still bring Smithsonian resources to you! This thread by National Museum of American History is a great starting point:

📣Attention, people with kids at home: You're doing a great job! And we're here to help.

Tell us what your child is interested in (bonus points for their age) and we'll send something related your way. It might be a video, an activity, a story, or a surprise!

Our check out this resource page full of activities kids can do both independently or with you: https://americanhistory.si.edu/kids/kids-things-do-home

#SmithsonianEdu

Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo To Close March 14
03/12/2020
Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo To Close March 14

Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo To Close March 14

As a public health precaution due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), all Smithsonian museums in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and New York City, including the National Zoo, will temporarily close to the public starting Saturday, March 14. The health and safety of Smithsonian visitors, staff and vo...

03/12/2020
Smithsonian

Smithsonian

As a public health precaution, the Smithsonian is postponing or canceling all public events through May 3. See si.edu/events for details. Museums and the National Zoo remain open at this time. We are monitoring the guidance of the CDC and local public health officials.

Don't miss your chance to meet and hear from the three women who invented the sports bra this Wednesday, March 4. Regist...
03/02/2020
National Museum of American History

Don't miss your chance to meet and hear from the three women who invented the sports bra this Wednesday, March 4. Registration for the event is free and open to all ages!

Today, it's easy to take the sports bra for granted. However, the modern sports bra was invented much more recently than you think—1977 to be specific.

If you are in D.C. on Wednesday, March 4 you can meet and hear from the three women who invented the Jogbra, the first modern sportsbra at The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center's Innovative Lives program: https://s.si.edu/38a6Km7

Smithsonian
02/26/2020
Smithsonian

Smithsonian

With #SmithsonianOpenAccess, we're inviting everyone around the world not just to experience the wonders of the Smithsonian, but to make those wonders their own.

Read more about the announcement from Smithsonian Magazine and explore millions of digital resources at si.edu/OpenAccess.

We are one week away from our next Innovative Lives program! Get your free tickets here: https://2020innovativelives.eve...
02/24/2020
2020 Innovative Lives Series

We are one week away from our next Innovative Lives program! Get your free tickets here: https://2020innovativelives.eventbrite.com

The March 4 program features a discussion with the women who invented the first commercial sports bra - the Jogbra. Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller, and Polly Smith invented something that changed women's participation in sports and physical activity forever, and because of their work, they are being inducted into the 2020 National Inventors Hall of Fame! You won't want to miss this program. All ages are invited. See you there!

Join us on Wednesday, February 5th for the 2020 kick-off of the award-winning, Innovative Lives program series at the National Museum of American History. Innovative Lives: Adaptive Skateboarding, WCMX, and Inventing Your Own Path features adaptive skateboarders Oscar Loreto, Jr. and Dan Mancina, an...

Don't miss our Innovative Lives program on February 5, which will now include a special donation ceremony. Witness our s...
01/31/2020
Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center Is Head Over Wheels

Don't miss our Innovative Lives program on February 5, which will now include a special donation ceremony. Witness our speakers donate artifacts that represent accessibility and innovation to the Smithsonian's skateboarding collection.

https://www.si.edu/newsdesk/releases/smithsonians-lemelson-center-head-over-wheels

The skateboarding collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will expand its representation of accessibility during a special ceremony Feb. 5 in which adaptive skateboarders Oscar Loreto Jr. and Dan Mancina and Wheelchair Motocross (WCMX) icon Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringh...

Address

14th Street And Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington D.C., DC
20013-7012

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 17:30
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:30
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:30
Thursday 10:00 - 17:30
Friday 10:00 - 17:30
Saturday 10:00 - 17:30
Sunday 10:00 - 17:30

Telephone

(202) 633-3656

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Greetings! My mother is a Lemelson Center Alumnus from 2004 (not a Fellowship Alumnus). I have a hard copy print out from 12/3/2004. Is this list available online? Thank you for your time on this. x