Now you're cooking with electricity!

Before Alton Brown, Rachael Ray, and Giada De Laurentiis, there was Louisan Mamer (1910–2005). An early employee of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), Mamer traveled around the country teaching farmwomen how to use electricity in their daily lives. Demonstrating how to cook with electricity was a major part of Mamer's job and she developed many recipes during the course of her career.

When real patriots got Tetanus

By the beginning of the 20th century our love of colorful explosions and loud bangs brought with it a scourge: a deadly infection that became known as "patriotic tetanus."

Innovations in Defense

Mayhem Cyber Reasoning System, 2016

Hacked servers. Phishing scams. Computer viruses, trojan horses, and worms. Spam. Adware, spyware, and botnets. Not all innovations seek to benefit society. Mayhem, on exhibit in 1 West (the “Innovation Wing”) is the first artificial intelligence cyber defense system designed specifically to thwart attacks on our increasingly interconnected—and vulnerable—devices.

Heart valves galore, to Tin Man's delight

In The Wizard of Oz, Tin Man longs for a heart. That's a problem Manuel "Manny" Villafaña has rarely had - he has collected pieces of many hearts.

Pay attention to the man on the television screen!

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 Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Stay tuned for updates on the project.

Cutting-edge recent acquisitions sharpen our understanding of food history

One of our favorite food history collecting trips over the last year started with a predicament we are all familiar with—the frustration of a dull knife and a Thanksgiving turkey in need of carving. While continuing to expand our collections on the major changes in American food production, distribution, preparation, and consumption, curator Paula Johnson and I traveled to the headquarters of the EdgeCraft Corporation in Avondale, Pennsylvania in December 2015.

Solar on the Line

Solar on the Line explores the innovation and technology behind solar power as a renewable energy resource and presents multiple views on the potential benefits and challenges of this technology. This display introduces visitors to the history of solar energy use in the U.S. both as part of the electrical grid as well as an off-grid supplement. Two solar panels are on display, one from the Carter White House, which the president installed to heat water in 1979, and the other a recent acquisition from the California Million Solar Roof Initiative.

Frankenstrats and families: Inspiring family engagement in our "Draper Spark!Lab"

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 brother and me into the city, where we would visit one of the city's museums—like the National Museum of American History. This trip into the city wasn't a silent one though, because music was always playing, tunes that began to slowly shape my own music tastes. It wasn't just the rides over that have made these memories stick for the last 15 years; it was also the experiences my family and I shared.

Everyone Plays!

Athletes with disabilities have embraced the spirit of innovation to participate and excel in competitive sports by adapting equipment to suit their personal needs.

Mending Broken Hearts: Innovation Inside the Body

The history of medical advancement in America has been one of trial and risk. Artificial heart valves were the first successful mechanical replacement of an organ in a human. Today, heart valve operations are routine, but developing a successful mechanical heart valve involved years of experimentation by small teams of doctors, scientists, and engineers after World War II.