Improving lives through invention

Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center

Documenting the history of invention and inspiring students through hands-on, experiential activities about the invention process

The Smithsonian Institution was one of the Foundation’s earliest collaborators with the establishment of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation in 1995.

As part of the National Museum of American History, the Center has led scholarly studies that document and celebrate the history of invention.

The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation also provides exposure to the history and process of invention in America to the museum’s approximately four million annual visitors.

It features invention-oriented exhibitions (currently Places of Invention); Spark!Lab, a hands-on invention workshop for children and families; and Inventive Minds, a gallery highlighting the documentation work done by the Lemelson Center.

Created in 2008, The Lemelson Center’s popular Spark!Lab provides activities for youth and families to learn about the process of invention at the National Museum of American History and at sites across the country.

Children between the ages of six and 12 learn to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment and invent through a variety of activities incorporating STEM, art, history and creativity.

Related Stories