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.
Lewis Latimer Patent Drawing
- Electricity pioneer Lewis Latimer drew this component of an arc lamp, an early type of electric light, for the U.S. Electric Lighting Company in 1880.
- The son of escaped slaves and a Civil War veteran at age sixteen, Latimer trained himself as a draftsman. His technical and artistic skills earned him jobs with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, among others. An inventor in his own right, Latimer received numerous patents and was a renowned industry expert on incandescent lighting.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Latimer, Lewis H.
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- accession number
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- Data Source
- National Museum of American History