2015 Events - Year of Innovation

Innovation Wing Grand Opening
July 1, 2015

On July 1, the Museum will unveil new 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 Numismatics Collection.

On opening day, visitors will celebrate America’s innovative spirit with special activities, demonstrations and music. The festivities will begin with a 10:30 a.m. ribbon cutting, followed by a “Build the Flag” activity with Lego master builders beginning at 11 a.m. Jazz and Hip Hop D.J. spun music and demonstrations will take place throughout the day.

The celebration will also debut the museum’s new living history theater presentation - an 1890s wheelwoman with a period-appropriate “safety” bicycle. The first two inaugural demonstration programs on the Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza will feature The Business of Chocolate: From Bean to Drink and How Do You Fix a Broken Heart? Museum docents will “spotlight”  key objects and stories for visitors in the Places of Invention and American Enterprise exhibitions and visitors will find hands-on activities in the Draper Spark!Lab. “Food Fridays” kick off on July 3 with Chef Curtis Aikens.

All listings are subject to change. Programs are free unless otherwise noted. The museum will operate extended hours, staying open until 7:30 p.m.; except on July 4. For a complete schedule of activities, see our events calendar.

Wednesday, July 1

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza

  • 10:15- 10:30 a.m.        Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Quintet performance
  • 10:30 a.m.                   Ribbon Cutting
  • 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.           Build a large U.S. Flag sculpture with Lego Master Builders           
  • 11 a.m. - Noon            D.J. Will Eastman
  • 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.         “How Do You Fix a Broken Heart?” demonstration
  • 1:30 - 2 p.m.                D.J. Will Eastman
  • 2 - 4 p.m.                     “The Business of Chocolate: From Bean to Drink” demonstration

Spotlight Tours: American Enterprise and Places of Invention exhibitions

  • 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Draper Spark!Lab

  • Open 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project Docents Assisting with Hands-on-Activities

  • 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

“The Wheelwoman” Historic Interpreter

  • 1:30 - 2 p.m.; 2:30 - 3 p.m.; and 4 - 4:30 p.m.


Past program: Raise It Up! America Innovates
June 11, 2015

The Museum's Summer of Innovation kicks off with Raise It Up! America Innovates. Join us in the museum or online for a celebration of the ingenuity of the American spirit with exciting events and musical performances.


Welcome new citizens and celebrate American innovation:
In the morning, we welcome new citizens in a Naturalization Ceremony in Flag Hall. Enjoy live performances by indie pop band Haerts and the presentation of the James Smithsonian Bicentennial Medal to scientist, educator, researcher, inventor and entrepreneur Sebastian Thrun. 11 a.m.

Get funky with a free go-go concert:
Enjoy electrifying musical performances with the America Now! Festival, highlighting innovative forms of music including DC's own go-go band Team Familiar. Interviews with musicians will take place during the concert with hands-on activities throughout the day. We'll share photos and fun facts throughout the day with the hashtag #AmericaNow. 1:30-5:30 p.m.

This festival is a part of the America Now! Series, a three-museum collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History, and Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous funding is provided by the Robert and Arlene Kogod Family Foundation. 


Hear from Internet pioneers: 
Tune in for the live webcast, the Internet Age: Founders to Future, offered in partnership with the Internet Society, to explore and examine one of the most powerful "inventions" of the 21st century: the Internet. Featured speakers include: Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation and the leader of the Mozilla Project; Vint Cerf, co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet; David Farber, an Internet Hall of Fame inductee who played a key role in many systems that converged into today's Internet; and Sebastian Thrun, founder and CEO of Udacity, a company dedicated to democratizing learning. With moderator Eric Hintz, historian with the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, they will discuss where the internet is taking us and how it will shape our future. Join the discussion with the hashtag #InternetAge. 2:30-4:30 p.m. EDT.

Share your place of invention:
Throughout the summer, continue the celebration by sharing stories of innovation and invention in your community through our Places of Invention Map. The interactive map is now open and accepting submissions. Share your story with us!


RAISE IT UP! America Innovates | American NOW

From Our Blog

Black and white photo of Riker electric automobile parked outside. 

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, it turns out that is the kind of innovation and technology query that sends curators down a research rabbit hole.

A top-down view of the Magnavox controller showing off its faux-wood paneling, three dials, and instruction text: English, Horizontal, Reset, and Vertical. A thick beige cable is wrapped around the controller's base.

In September 1972, the Magnavox Odyssey appeared in American Magnavox stores, making it the first video game console that could be played at home with your television.

See more blog posts