Today, the Washington Senators are most remembered for their ability to finish in last place. Despite their successful early history marked...
José Feliciano will remain forever celebrated for his perennial Christmas classic "Feliz Navidad," one of his many hit recordings that have...
Advertising agencies have relied on images to engage consumers since the late 19th century. Images convey both information and emotion in a...

Blog Posts in "Invention & Innovation"

Colorful poster with cartoon-like people traveling to be vaccinated in comic-like scenes. WHO logo in center.
At the height of the Cold War, Soviet and American scientists and physicians united to call for a new and very different war—one on...
Microscope, bronze in color, on small tripod. Small glass in viewer.
"Whoever at the seaside has not had a microscope and an aquarium has yet to learn what the highest pleasures of the seaside are." So said...
Lobster on a plate
Our American Food History Project recently introduced Food Fridays, a new cooking demonstration series on the Wallace H...
Power wheel chair with "yes!" bumper sticker on side
Over on Twitter, a lot of people are engaged in #DisabilityStories, an international conversation about disability art, culture,...
Black and white photo from street level looking up at two feet in wheel chair and a high curb.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
3D model of Mt. Vernon with red roof, white walls, green grass. Many columns and windows.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
19th Century Spherometer
You have an object that is curved and you want to know how round it is. How would you measure it? This may seem like a rather strange...
View of Smithsonian Castle, 1863
Where does creativity reside? The first place we think of is the mind. But what role do surroundings play in the ideas behind invention and...
Black and white portrait of bearded young-ish man from shoulders up, looking left.
In the last days of February 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made his way from his home in Boston to Washington, D.C. Bell's patent attorney...
Photo of display case that says "Consumer Era 1940s-1970s" featuring historic objects. One sign on display says "Sorry! Last car in this line."
On July 1, 2015, we will open a new exhibition: American Enterprise, in the Mars Hall of American Business. It is the...
Consul the Educated Monkey, Smithsonian image AHB2015r00132. Gift of Richard Lodish.
Educator Richard Lodish has just given the museum an example of a computing device called Consul the Educated Monkey. This is one of the...
Black and white photo of people of all ages exiting through a door, some holding programs. Signage advertises upcoming concerts and shows.
The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation's Places of Invention explores what happens when the right mix of...
Pick pack in circle shape
It's often said that necessity is the mother of invention, but it can be the father of invention too. Here’s the story of an innovative...
Orange juice cans
The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project is a new interactive learning space opening on July 1. Here, we're highlighting...
Happy money, front and back
When considering the origins of objects in a museum’s collection, one might initially think of donations from private collectors, national...
D.C.-area musicians Little Benny on saxophone and and MeShell Ndegeocello on bass. Photograph by Thomas Sayers Ellis, used with permission.
Experience live go-go music on Thursday, June 11, 2015, as part of our America Now! Music Festival.In the early 1970s, musical pioneer...
3 guitar heads
Happy 100th Birthday, Les Paul!June 9, 2015, is an important day for the guitar and music world: It is the centennial of the birth of...
When you combine the right people and a mix of useful resources in a special place, invention and innovation often result. Here at the...
Milling machine with cranks and gears and four feet, table sized
Having worked at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation for seven years, I see invention and innovation...
Photograph of an America Online installation disk, 1990s
On June 11, 2015, we present America Now, a nationwide celebration of America's innovative spirit. As part of the day's festivities,...
Photograph of William Ramsey's ledger
Several years ago, Dr. Ann Smart Martin and I met at a conference and discovered our mutual interest in making eighteen and nineteenth-...
Dole pineapple ad in very saturated color with can, fruit, and ukulele
The ‘ukulele, or ukulele, as it's spelled in American English ("uke" for short), is one of the first things that many people associate with...
Portrait of Caroline Jones at the start of her career as an advertising executive
A fedora, Lucky Strike cigarettes, and a set of cocktail-ready tumblers: all the hallmarks of a 1960s ad agency were on display Thursday...
Musical device with Dolby system
"'I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy.'"'All right,' said the Cat; and this time it...
Microscope
In the store-rooms of the museum, we recently discovered a small microscope made around 1750. The "I. CUFF Londini Inv. & Fec."...
Chair made of 50 yellow pencils
The humble chair has long been the subject of invention and reinvention. From reclining and office chairs to today's ever-shrinking airline...
The Cycle Parade March sheet music
It's that time of year when many D.C. commuters forgo their usual Metro rides and haul their bicycles out of storage or rent a bikeshare...
Kubla Khan Chicken Chop Suey
In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, archivist Cathy Keen explores how a Chinese-American entrepreneur helped introduce new...
Supermarket sushi bar
Where can you find the sushi capital of Japanese America?In downtown Los Angeles, the five-block-wide neighborhood known as "Little Tokyo"...
Victorian trade card advertising Tabasco sauce, 1900
Object Project new media assistant Caitlin Kearney explores the history behind how American soldiers have used Tabasco sauce to spice...
1920s icebox
If you haven't done your spring cleaning yet, think about starting with the fridge. Thanks to electric refrigeration, we're able to store...
Detail crop of Neiman's "Big Band" painting
Can't tell your Dizzys from your Dukes? Whether you're new to jazz, or just looking for a quick and easy way to remember jazz history's...
Detail image of LeRoy Neiman's "Big Band" painting, featuring 3 of the jazz artists
When serious jazz fans namedrop their favorite musicians (and their copious nicknames), it can be a bit intimidating for those of us who...
A historic record
What do you do after recovering sound from 130-year old recordings? For the museum, the next step was trying to understand that sound. In...
An early self-portrait of inventor and businessman Robert Cornelius, taken in 1839. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
We often rely on our colleagues who have expertise in specific areas to guide us in our selection of objects for the American Enterprise...
Detail of image: two men with camera and hats
Boston-area photographer George K. Warren, with studios variously in Lowell, Cambridge, and Boston, started as a daguerreotypist in the...
Curator preparing “Abigail” doll for display in the “American Enterprise” exhibition.
A small, 11" cloth doll might seem like an incongruous object for discussing the issues of the American Great Depression. Yet enduring the...
Jefferson's Bible, open
What was the significance of religion in the early history of the United States? In the summer of 2017, we will open a new exhibition...
Illustration of an ambulance-style van with a red cross and text: "U.S.A. X-Ray Car No. 4"
In 1897, at the age of 22, Henry Lyman Saÿen's career in scientific instruments seemed to be set. Little did he know that his talents would...
Apparatus
February 27, 2015, marks the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the radioactive carbon isotope, carbon-14, by Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben...
Alyea in lab with mechanism
I'm willing to bet most people would agree that hearing some of the earliest recorded sound is pretty cool. But what exactly makes it so...
Measles sign
In 1904 C. A. Lindsley, the secretary of the Connecticut State Board of Health, complained that "measles is still prevailing in an epidemic...
Blue poster announcing year of innovation
Do you ever wonder how your National Museum of American History conceptualizes and then creates the exhibitions and programs that so many...
Touring Ralph's workshop
I love being around inventors. I love the quality of their imaginations, but most of all, I love the kind of people they are, their...
Valentine card with phone lines
Sending warm and fuzzies to a special someone this Valentine's Day? If you're not able to convey your affections in person, you'll probably...
Ellipsograph
As a child, you may have played with a simple wooden toy called a "do-nothing" machine or simply a "grinder."As a mathematician, I find...
What motivates donors to give to museums? As a development intern at the National Museum of American History, I was curious to find out.One...
Side portrait of Bell, blue tinted
The name Alexander Graham Bell has become indelibly tied to the telephone (so much so that I'm surprised we don't call those handheld...

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