Places of Invention takes you on a journey through time and place to explore the stories of people who lived, worked, played, collaborated, adapted, took risks, solved problems, and sometimes failed--all in the pursuit of something new.
Get involved. Help us plan the exhibition!
Some invention hot spots
See what can happen when the right mix of inventive people, ready resources, and inspiring surroundings come together. Read about some of the places of invention that might be featured in our exhibtion. Vote for your favorites! And help us fill in the map with your stories!
- Growth of the scientific community in Washington, D.C., in the late 1800s
- Connections among the gun, sewing machine, and bicycle factories of Hartford, Connecticut, in the late 1800s
- MIT and Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the Second World War
- Rise of "Medical Alley" in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the 1960s
- Birth of hip hop in the Bronx, New York, in the 1970s
- Silicon Valley and the beginnings of the computer revolution in the 1970s
- Green energy in Fort Collins, Colorado, today
Reflections from the exhibition team
About the exhibition
Planning is underway for Places of Invention, a new, interactive, family-friendly exhibition for the Lemelson Hall of Invention at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. And we invite you to become part of our exhibition team!
- Goals of the exhibition:
- » Consider how communities support and nurture invention and innovation
- » Encourage visitors to explore the relationship between inventive people and their communities
- » Share visitors' stories about their own inventive and creative places
- What makes a place of invention?
The Lemelson Center's research has identified a number of shared attitudes, characteristics, and philosophies in places of invention, including:
- » Flexibility. Truly creative spaces are flexible, both architecturally and philosophically. Architecture is easily reconfigured,modular, and responsive to the needs of different people and different projects. Philosophically, these places exhibit balance between the need for solitude and the need for interaction with others.
- » Collaboration, networking, and communication. Creative places make it easy for people to discuss, share, and argue ideas.
- » Temporal nature. Creative institutions have life spans. Research laboratories, for example, are highly productive, on average, for about 20 years. Creative regions exhibit a similar, though longer-term, pattern.
- » Leadership. Charismatic leaders serve as catalysts for creativity and articulate and promote a clear mission. These influential mentors are often responsible for originally bringing a group of creative people together.
- Learn more about places of invention »
Since the Lemelson Center opened in 1995, we have addressed “places of invention” through a variety of activities for adult and/or scholarly audiences. Use these resources to investigate your place of invention.
Places of Invention is made possible by the generous support of the National Science Foundation »