Rolling across the Potomac on any given Sunday morning in the late 1990s, you could probably find a white Volvo with my dad driving my brother and me into the city, where we would visit one of the city's museums—like the National Museum of American History. This trip into the city wasn't a silent one though, because music was always playing, tunes that began to slowly shape my own music tastes. It wasn't just the rides over that have made these memories stick for the last 15 years; it was also the experiences my family and I shared.
Now that the first floor of our West Wing is open, I was curious what the head of our museum, Elizabeth MacMillan Director John Gray, thought about the big opening, this summer's focus on innovation, and what's next for the museum.
Draper Spark!Lab, the popular hands-on invention experience from the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, reopens July 1 at the National Museum of American History in a new, open and flexible 2,000-square-foot space with the look and feel of an inventor’s workspace. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 will create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment and work their way through the invention process from start to finish.
The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation will open its first permanent public home—the Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation—at the National Museum of American History July 1. The Hall will feature “Places of Invention,” a signature 3,500 square-foot exhibition examining hotspots of invention throughout history; Draper Spark!Lab, a hands-on space for children aged 6 to 12; and “Inventive Minds,” a small gallery that will introduce the work of the Lemelson Center.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is transforming how its audiences will experience history beginning July 1 when it opens exhibitions, learning places and programming spaces all centered on the theme of innovation. The first floor of the museum’s West Wing will open with 45,000-square-feet featuring exhibitions that explore the history of American business, showcase “hot spots” of invention and put the spotlight on the National Numismatic Collection.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History plans to transform how its audiences experience history by creating a multiplex of exhibition galleries, experiential programs and performance spaces and an education center within a 120,000-square-foot wing of its 50-year-old McKim, Mead and White designed building.
The wing’s first floor will open July 1, 2015, with the second and third floors opening in 2016 and 2017.
Spark!Lab is where museum visitors become inventors. The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation invites children between the ages of 6 and 12 to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment, and invent. Activities for children and families incorporate traditional science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with art, museum, and creativity.
The west wing exhibition spaces of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History are about to undergo an extensive $37 million renovation beginning this month. The construction work on the 127,000-square-foot space will be completed by Grunley Construction Company Inc. of Rockville, Md. The Philadelphia-based architectural firm EwingCole prepared the design and engineering plans for the museum. During the estimated two-and-a-half-year construction project, the center core and east wing of the museum will remain open.
The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation is launching the Spark!Lab Outreach Kit Project, an effort to extend the reach of Spark!Lab—the center’s hands-on invention activity center—beyond the walls of the National Museum of American History. The kits will replicate some of the most popular Spark!Lab activities and provide opportunities for partner museums to connect their collections and exhibitions to themes of invention and innovation.
The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History presents NanoDays 2010, a nationwide festival of educational programs about nanoscale science and engineering, March 27 to April 3. The Lemelson Center is one of more than 200 science museums, research centers and universities across the country presenting hands-on activities, experiments and lectures pertaining to nanotechnology—the study of controlling matter on an atomic and molecular scale.