Energy & Power
The Museum's collections on energy and power illuminate the role of fire, steam, wind, water, electricity, and the atom in the nation's history. The artifacts include wood-burning stoves, water turbines, and windmills, as well as steam, gas, and diesel engines. Oil-exploration and coal-mining equipment form part of these collections, along with a computer that controlled a power plant and even bubble chambers—a tool of physicists to study protons, electrons, and other charged particles.
A special strength of the collections lies in objects related to the history of electrical power, including generators, batteries, cables, transformers, and early photovoltaic cells. A group of Thomas Edison's earliest light bulbs are a precious treasure. Hundreds of other objects represent the innumerable uses of electricity, from streetlights and railway signals to microwave ovens and satellite equipment.
- Leo Baekeland (1863-1944) earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Ghent when he was just 21 years old. A few years later, he won a competition open to recent graduates from Belgian universities. This silver frond is part of his prize. The inscriptions on the stem read “HOMME DE LA VILLE DE GAND” and “LEO BAEKELAND” and “PREMIER EN SCIENCES CHIMIQUES” and “COURS DE L’ENSEIGNEMENT SUPERIEUR.”
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History