For several decades after the Revolution, Paul Revere was as famous for his church bells as for his midnight ride. His role as a horse-...
On June 17, 1885, a French ship, the Isère, arrived in New York Harbor laden with very special cargo—more than 200 crates filled with...
As the museum's social media manager, I get to see many snapshots our visitors share on social media while they're here. Frequently...

Blog Posts in "Invention & Innovation"

A horizontal glass bottle with metal machinery inside. There is wiring, a semicircular object, and a glass spout on one end with a tube attached below it filled with a black substance. Above, there is an object that is shaped like an golden, upside-down light bulb.
Vacuum technology is fascinating to me. Unfortunately for my house, I'm talking about a vacuum defined by the absence of matter, not the...
A piece of paper three hole punched at the top. There is a comic printed on it off-center of two computers sitting on a chair with a picture on a small table and dialogue bubbles. A signature and text is in the lower righthand corner and information is stamped above the cartoon on the page
On May 11, 1997, a chess-playing computer, Deep Blue, and world chess champion Garry Kasparov were on their sixth and final game. His...
A photograph of a number of men standing in front of a greenhouse. Their clothes are not very fine and they all have hats on. There are overgrown plants and trees behind the greenhouse. The men hold different tools like a scythe or a rake
Piano manufacturer William Steinway described his vision of suburban America to Congress in 1883, but in his own life the future had...
During the "Innovative Lives" event, curator Peter Liebhold (left) interviewed scientists Mary-Dell Chilton (center) and Robert Fraley (right).
The fall of 2016 was an important milestone in the history of agriculture—the 20-year anniversary of the first large-scale harvest of a...
A pair of dark leather books that are higher than ankle-length. They lace up the front. They have seen wear, as some of the seams look worn and the soles look like they're coming apart. On the ground in front of the shoes is a notebook. It looks to be made of dark leather and has rings like a modern binder, with pages covered in dark cursive.
Update: Thanks to you, our Kickstarter campaign to "Keep Them Ruby" was a success and we have the support we need to conserve and display...
on top of a grey surface, two rows of Pokemon cards are laid out, side by side. There are energy and trainer cards along with cards related to individual Pokemon. Some cards are in Japanese. In the bottom center row is a booklet with instructions for playing the card game.
Every generation comes to define itself by the experiences it shares, whether tragic or blissful. Sometimes, a single entertainment...
A photograph of a man in the garb of the 1860s. He rests his hand on a large globe on the ground as he stands and looks at something out of the right side of the frame. In his right hand he carries a rolled up paper.
I came to the Smithsonian in the summer of 1962, excited about the opportunity to apply my academic training in the history of science to...
An black and white image of a building surrounded by smoke. People gather around it, many in hats and winter jackets. The full caption at the bottom of the picture reads "The Collinwood School, photographed while the fire still raged"
With the academic year in full swing, schools across the country are beginning their first rounds of fire drills. Remember those? As alarms...
Small, handmade car designed from cardboard pieces in red, white, and brown.
Rolling across the Potomac on any given Sunday morning in the late 1990s, you could probably find a white Volvo with my dad driving my...
An illustration showing a cluster of figures. Neptune rides some sort of chariot pulled by four horse, with sea nymphs surrounding him and a cupid flying in the air. The scene is framed by pink ribbons saying "Neptune Hose Co.  Instituted August 6, 1805 and banners reading "To save out fellows we hazard ourselves"
Our fire engine has a secret message. For a few years now, this hand-pumped engine has been on display on the museum's first floor. For a...
Photograph of the Tucker sedan on display on the museum floor
Given an opportunity to suggest a landmark artifact outside the entrance to American Enterprise, the museum's new business history...
a green square board with a number of small pes attached by screen to a roller contraption with a handle on which lace is stretched
Walking down a street in Chicago in 1901, Sylvester G. Lewis saw a large group of women enthralled with a lady making lace in a window...
Photograph of a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz taillight assembly, 1959
Although visitors would be hard-pressed to find shark fins in our museum's displays, there is one kind of fin (or, at least, part of a fin...
For the third installment of our Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project potluck series, we embraced 1950s cooking. We found...
Patent with black and white illustration
New posters around the museum remind us as we come to work each morning that our theme this year is "America Participates." This...
1870s Remington typewriter, black with detailed flowers and patriotic emblems painted on it
The sound of clicking typewriter keys filled the museum's Innovation Wing recently during Type-O-Rama. This event, presented by the ...
Cover of "Recipes for Today" cookbook, with an illustration of a woman wearing a read and white dress and carrying a large bowl of soup
The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project team had a variety of reactions, taste-wise, to the 1930s recipes that...
Black and white photo of a large bank of snow. In the center, a tunnel has been made. A man stands inside the tunnel. Behind him, five buildings over one story high. "Hardware Iron & Steel" says the sign on one.
Piano maker William Steinway woke up on March 12, 1888, and discovered "the most fearful snowstorm . . . I ever experienced" had buried New...
Photo of fabric. Dark blue background. Images of small children wearing pink, brown, white, and blue outfits. Attached together with string.
Some dolls, some dogs, and a charming Parisian story from our textile collections, part of our World War I series this month.In July 1918,...
Photograph of Monopoly board game, 1940s
This month marks the 80th anniversary for Charles S. Darrow's patent for the board game Monopoly. By the time Darrow was awarded the patent...
"Park and Shop" board game
 This November 27, 2015, the day after Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will kick off the holiday shopping season with what has...
1930s potluck spread
The members of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project team have been poring over authentic period cookbooks as research...
1930s General Electric Monitor Top refrigerator
Electric refrigeration motivated Americans to rethink how they purchased, prepared, and stored food when it first took off in the 1930s....
Dennis the Menace with stethoscope and "Less of a Menace" text on button or sticker
Metaphors of war and combat are almost impossible to avoid when describing humankind's struggle to control infectious disease. The war may...
At the first sign of symptoms, many people turn to the Internet for health advice. Early listeners to radio could turn their dials and...
Black and white illustration of woman and girl using machine
American inventions associated with the book were having a bit of a boom between the 1850s and the 1880s. The number of books published...
Thomas Edison's patent model for improvements to a stock ticker
The Smithsonian and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are hosting an Innovation Festival at the museum on...
A slow disco melody spins on the turntable, interrupted by the metallic sound of symbols. Right after that, the running sounds of bongo...
Place setting and tray used by the Kim family to serve Korean food
Entrepreneurial success and innovative spirit can come in many forms, and emerge from innumerable paths. The same can be said for stories...
Black and white photo of building
Guest blogger Sarah Weatherwax, a photography curator at the Library Company of Philadelphia, brings her expertise to bear on several...
Black and white photo of building surrounded by trees
Guest blogger Sarah Weatherwax, a photography curator at the Library Company of Philadelphia, brings her expertise to bear on several...
Photo of a concert on the museum's stage
Now that the first floor of our West Wing is open, I was curious what the head of our museum, Elizabeth MacMillan Director John Gray,...
Detail of the cover of "The Quest," which includes illustrations of a baby and a dog
In 1926 seven-year-old Belema Siegfried was turned away from school. The reason? Her parents had refused to submit paperwork proving that...
Each year in August, National Immunization Awareness Month provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across the...
Colorful poster with cartoon-like people traveling to be vaccinated in comic-like scenes. WHO logo in center.
At the height of the Cold War, Soviet and American scientists and physicians united to call for a new and very different war—one on...
Microscope, bronze in color, on small tripod. Small glass in viewer.
"Whoever at the seaside has not had a microscope and an aquarium has yet to learn what the highest pleasures of the seaside are." So said...
Lobster on a plate
Our American Food History Project recently introduced Food Fridays, a new cooking demonstration series on the Wallace H...
Power wheel chair with "yes!" bumper sticker on side
Over on Twitter, a lot of people are engaged in #DisabilityStories, an international conversation about disability art, culture,...
Black and white photo from street level looking up at two feet in wheel chair and a high curb.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
3D model of Mt. Vernon with red roof, white walls, green grass. Many columns and windows.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
19th Century Spherometer
You have an object that is curved and you want to know how round it is. How would you measure it? This may seem like a rather strange...
View of Smithsonian Castle, 1863
Where does creativity reside? The first place we think of is the mind. But what role do surroundings play in the ideas behind invention and...
Black and white portrait of bearded young-ish man from shoulders up, looking left.
In the last days of February 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made his way from his home in Boston to Washington, D.C. Bell's patent attorney...
Photo of display case that says "Consumer Era 1940s-1970s" featuring historic objects. One sign on display says "Sorry! Last car in this line."
On July 1, 2015, we will open a new exhibition: American Enterprise, in the Mars Hall of American Business. It is the...
Consul the Educated Monkey, Smithsonian image AHB2015r00132. Gift of Richard Lodish.
Educator Richard Lodish has just given the museum an example of a computing device called Consul the Educated Monkey. This is one of the...
Black and white photo of people of all ages exiting through a door, some holding programs. Signage advertises upcoming concerts and shows.
The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation's Places of Invention explores what happens when the right mix of...
Pick pack in circle shape
It's often said that necessity is the mother of invention, but it can be the father of invention too. Here’s the story of an innovative...
Orange juice cans
The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project is a new interactive learning space opening on July 1. Here, we're highlighting...

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