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.
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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

Have you heard of Nigerian-American inventor Jessica O. Matthews?  Jessica’s career started at the age of 19 with her in...
02/08/2021
Innovative Lives: Jessica O. Matthews

Have you heard of Nigerian-American inventor Jessica O. Matthews?

Jessica’s career started at the age of 19 with her invention of the SOCCKET, an energy-generating soccer ball. At the age of 22, Jessica founded Uncharted Power as a power solutions company before expanding to integrated infrastructure solutions.

Jessica’s success in entrepreneurship led to a White House invitation from President Barack Obama to represent small companies for the signing of the America Invents Act in 2012. In 2016, she raised what was at the time the largest Series A round ever raised by a black female founder in history, and was selected to ring the NASDAQ opening ceremony bell, representing all Forbes 30 Under 30 alumni.

We invite you to join us on Wednesday, Feb. 10 for Innovative Lives: Jessica O. Matthews. Jessica joins us live online to share her story, her motivations, and her unique approach to invention.

Registration is free, but required: https://unchartedpower.eventbrite.com

The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center's 2021 Innovative Lives series continues this month with featured speaker Jessica O. Matthews.

On Wednesday, February 10, join us online for Innovative Lives: Jessica O. Matthews, featuring Nigerian-American invento...
02/01/2021
Online Event Page | Eventbrite

On Wednesday, February 10, join us online for Innovative Lives: Jessica O. Matthews, featuring Nigerian-American inventor and CEO Jessica O. Matthews.

Jessica O. Matthews’ work is at the intersection of disruptive technology, renewable energy, and human behavior. She is the founder of Uncharted Power.

During the live program, Matthews will share stories about her background, inspirations, and inventions leading to 12 patents, starting with her first invention at the age of 19.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/x/innovative-lives-jessica-o-matthews-tickets-136485474729

Eventbrite brings people together through live experiences. Discover events that match your passions, or create your own with online ticketing tools.

01/21/2021
Who We Are Now

Lemelson Center Director Arthur Daemmrich recently participated in National Museum of American History's "Pandemic Perspectives" webinar series to share how the world recovered from the 1918 pandemic. Can history help us predict what the world will be like after COVID-19? Check out the recording to find out:

#Smithsonian - “It's a very interesting question whether and how people's behaviors will change because of the pandemic. We don’t have clear clues for the next several years from the 1918 pandemic, but the general sense is that people bounced back to in-person and live events in a very serious way, and forgot about the pandemic.

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s “Pandemic Perspectives” webinar series has been an interesting way to explore the experience of past pandemics and help people put in context what they're going through right now. We started out with a very serious and important topic around scapegoating and treatment of minorities. We also have covered things that are more light-hearted, like toys and games and how people play when stuck at home.

The Smithsonian, like other museums around the country, closed the second week of March. The American History museum was open from late September through November, and then closed when the caseload spiked again. Peak days this fall were getting around 800, 850 people. In the pre-COVID era, a peak day would be over 10,000 people. We are hopeful that visitors all return once people are vaccinated.” - Arthur Daemmrich, Director of the The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center

Read Arthur's story here: https://www.whowearenow.us/post/arthur-~-smithsonian-~-who-we-are-now

Pandemic Perspectives series: https://americanhistory.si.edu/pandemic-perspectives

Have you ever had an idea for an invention that you believed could be successful if only you had more space, more time, ...
01/05/2021

Have you ever had an idea for an invention that you believed could be successful if only you had more space, more time, more creativity, or more money? Environmental factors, individual abilities, resource limitations, and so much more contribute to each person's inventive process, but constraints often help rather than hinder creativity by fostering a culture of problem solving.

Join us for a very special online *25th Year Anniversary* Innovative Lives panel discussion with inventor alumni from past Innovative Lives programs to explore the ways in which inventing within constraints can often be the best pathway to solutions.

Registration is free: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/innovative-lives-25-years-of-innovative-lives-tickets-132998320557

It took nearly 100 years from the first vaccine in 1796 (against smallpox) to a second vaccine in 1885 (against rabies)....
01/04/2021
Welcome! You are invited to join a webinar: Pandemic Perspectives. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the webinar.

It took nearly 100 years from the first vaccine in 1796 (against smallpox) to a second vaccine in 1885 (against rabies). By contrast, the past 100 years have seen the development of many new vaccines to prevent over 20 diseases. Yet, even with major investments, vaccines often take many years to develop, test, and approve.

Join the National Museum of American History for Racing for Vaccines on Tuesday, January 5, at 4pm ET. Part of the museum's Pandemic Perspectives series, program panelists for Racing for Vaccines will discuss vaccine invention, testing, marketing, and distribution from a historical perspective and will comment on developments since COVID-19 was first identified in late 2019.

Registration is free: https://smithsonian.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VxpyL-qSQFSelVSVn1tJbg

Join the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History for an engaging series of panels offering perspective on the current pandemic. Curators and historians will use important objects from the past as a springboard to a lively discussion of how critical explorations of the past help us to bet...

"This year, students’ anticipation of winter break feels different (for parents, too!). It’s less about a break from sch...
12/23/2020
Encouraging Inventive Thinking Over Winter Break

"This year, students’ anticipation of winter break feels different (for parents, too!). It’s less about a break from school for those who have been learning virtually since the spring. Valuable time for out-of-school educational experiences as a family have changed, too. Many museums and cultural institutions aren’t open. Visits with friends and relatives are shortened, distanced, or cancelled. For those of us who want to find a creative way to spend time together as a family, learn something, and differentiate it from virtual school time, we have to think . . . inventively."

New on our blog: Encouraging Inventive Thinking Over Winter Break
https://invention.si.edu/encouraging-inventive-thinking-over-winter-break

Use the time and resources you have to foster inventive thinking in your family this winter break!

Smithsonian
11/19/2020
Smithsonian

Smithsonian

Due to rising regional and national cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo, will temporarily close to the public starting Monday, Nov. 23. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time, and will share updates on social media and our website, si.edu. Visitors who had reserved timed-entry passes to visit at a future date are being contacted directly. https://s.si.edu/332bgmR

While our spaces are closed, you can always experience the Smithsonian online. Explore millions of pieces from across our collections, plus online exhibitions, videos and more: si.edu/online

We also have free, quality resources from Smithsonian Education for teachers, students and caregivers. These focus on pre-K through 12 education, including low-tech and no-tech options and some Spanish/English learning resources: learninglab.si.edu/distancelearning

Our week-long virtual program, Black Inventors and Innovators: New Perspectives, continues today at 1 PM ET.  Speakers i...
11/18/2020

Our week-long virtual program, Black Inventors and Innovators: New Perspectives, continues today at 1 PM ET. Speakers in today's third session, "Black Inventors and Innovators at Work," will discuss how aspects of Black identity inspire technological creativity; how Black inventors identify unmet social needs to develop new technologies; and the creative ways that end users remix technologies to serve the specific needs of their communities. The session will also consider strategies for diversifying the high-tech workforce and building workplace cultures that better support Black inventors.

Register now for today's session and the week's remaining sessions: https://smithsonian.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PTe1rHzsTG2FSaEHoTcb2w

The events of 2020 have drawn renewed attention to longstanding inequalities in the invention and innovation ecosystem a...
11/16/2020
Welcome! You are invited to join a webinar: Black Inventors and Innovators: New Perspectives. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the webinar.

The events of 2020 have drawn renewed attention to longstanding inequalities in the invention and innovation ecosystem and Black Americans’ complex relationship with technology. In the United States, Black men and women are less likely than other demographics to earn STEM degrees, receive patents, or commercialize new products and services. Black scientists and engineers experience unconscious bias and outright discrimination in the high-tech employment sector, while Black inventor-entrepreneurs face persistent difficulties in gaining access to venture capital, intellectual property protection, and commercial networks. With Black technologists largely absent from the invention process, supposedly neutral apps and algorithms are encoded with racist assumptions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and deepen social inequality. And yet, Black Americans regularly invent, tweak, and deploy technology in the course of cultural and political expression and develop new products and services with global reach.

Join us for Black Inventors & Innovators: New Perspectives, a week-long webinar series beginning TODAY, Nov. 16: https://smithsonian.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PTe1rHzsTG2FSaEHoTcb2w

Through presentations by an interdisciplinary group of thought leaders and engaged discussions with our online audience, this “state of the field” workshop will identify critical questions, seek out new case studies, and articulate conceptual themes to inform the next generation of research, archival collecting, museum exhibitions, and educational initiatives.

Join the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation for a week-long webinar series drawing renewed attention to historic and contemporary inventors of color and Black technology consumers, while discussing strategies for building a more equitable innovation ecosystem. ...

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...

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
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Sunday 10:00 - 17:30

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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