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.
- During his term in office, President Jimmy Carter fought for clean energy using renewable sources. As a symbol of his faith in “the power of the sun,” Carter had 32 solar panels installed on the White House West Wing roof in the summer of 1979. These panels were used to heat water in the household for seven years until President Ronald Reagan had them removed in 1986. The panels were stored in a government warehouse until 1991, when they were acquired by Unity College in Maine. The college installed some of the panels to heat their cafeteria water.
- This solar panel is one of the original Carter White House panels and was donated to the National Museum of American History by Unity College in 2009.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 1977
- Carter, Jimmy
- Inter Technology/Solar Corporation
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History