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Arthur Daemmrich Named Director of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center

August 10, 2015

Arthur Daemmrich, a leading scholar in science and technology studies, has been appointed director of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History. The appointment comes as the center is poised to celebrate its 20th anniversary in September and following the successful opening of the permanent Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation, featuring “Places of Invention,” Draper Spark!Lab and “Inventive Minds,” at the museum.   

Daemmrich will keep the spotlight on invention and innovation at the Smithsonian by identifying new exhibition and research initiatives and growing the center’s education programs, such as the annual New Perspectives on Invention and Innovation symposium and the Spark!Lab National Network, which currently hosts members in four states. On the occasion of the Lemelson Center’s 20th anniversary, it will convene inventors and historians to address impact inventing—inventing to solve meaningful problems—in close cooperation with the Lemelson Foundation.

“Invention and innovation have and will continue to play a significant role in American society,” said John Gray, director of the National Museum of American History. “The Lemelson Center has a stellar history of engaging the public with this important topic and we all look forward to working with Arthur on continuing those discussions. His remarkable expertise in the history of science and technology and proven track record of leadership certainly signals exciting work to come.”

“Innovation is one of the few great unifying forces of the present era, and the Lemelson Center creates exciting exhibits and educational programs based on its engagement with leading scholarship on the topic,” Daemmrich said. “We will continue to celebrate independent inventors, analyze factors that enable sustained innovation and inspire the next generation. I’m fortunate to join this energetic and entrepreneurial group and have the good fortune of starting 169 years to the day that the Smithsonian Institution was established in 1846.”

Most recently, Daemmrich was an associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine, where his research included historical and comparative studies of healthcare systems, pharmaceutical regulation and innovation, and chemical testing policies in the United States and European Union. His past experience includes faculty positions at Harvard Business School and the China Europe International Business School as well as being the founding director of the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He holds a doctorate from Cornell University in science and technology studies and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in History and Sociology of Science. He is the author of Pharmacopolitics: Drug Regulation in the United States and Germany and has published more than 25 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and 15 teaching cases and notes.

Founded in 1995 by prolific American inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy, the Lemelson Center leads the study of invention history at the Smithsonian. Lemelson Center exhibitions, publications and programs draw on the Smithsonian’s vast collections of artifacts and archival materials, advance scholarship on the history of invention, share stories about inventors and their work and nurture creativity in young people. The center embodies a philosophy akin to that of the inventors they study, of valuing creativity and embracing the potential rewards of intellectual risk-taking.  

“We applaud the selection of Arthur Daemmrich to lead the Lemelson Center,” said Dorothy Lemelson, chairman of The Lemelson Foundation. “As a historian, he continues to highlight the importance of invention and innovation to our future as a nation and global citizen. We look forward to working together to encourage more young people to explore and invent.”

Daemmrich will be the second director of the 20-year-old Lemelson Center, replacing founding director Art Molella, who retired July 2015. Molella came to the Smithsonian in 1974 to study the papers of Joseph Henry, the Smithsonian’s first secretary and a renowned physicist and inventor, and helped to establish the Lemelson Center in 1995.

About the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

The Lemelson Center has led the study of invention and innovation at the Smithsonian since 1995. The center’s activities advance scholarship on the history of invention, share stories about inventors and their work and nurture creativity in young people. The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation is a signature part of the National Museum of American History’s 45,000-square-foot space centered on the theme of innovation, where the museum is transforming how its audiences will experience history. Spark!Lab is open daily excepting Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation and the galleries that reside within it are made possible by The Lemelson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Intel and the Ford Motor Company Fund. For more information, visit invention.si.edu.