Icons of Business

American Enterprise will continue to change as the museum collects new objects to tell new stories. The exhibition's entrance icon invites visitors into the show and is changed periodically. Artifacts selected highlight important stories of business and innovation.

Waterloo Boy: Icon of Agriculture

A photograph of a green tractor with yellow wheels. In the background are large photographs of a drone and advertisements for the Waterloo Boy tractor.

The development and use of gasoline-powered tractors in the early 1900s helped change the business of American farming. Turning away from animal power and labor-intensive production, farmers modernized their rural operations, seeking the efficiency, size, and use of machines typical of urban factories.

Starting Up: The Tucker Sedan

A silver Tucker sedan (a car with pronounced curves), against a wood paneled wall.

Great ideas do not always lead to successful businesses. In 1948 automotive entrepreneur Preston Tucker promoted a futuristic car to enthusiastic consumers. The car featured many safety and technological innovations. Fifty-one automobiles were eventually produced, but the company struggled as it tried to set up factory production. While Tucker sought investment capital the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigated the company’s financial practices, and the business failed. Was Tucker overly optimistic, thwarted by government intervention, or just a poor manager?