Improving lives through invention

The Smithsonian Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

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

With the establishment of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation in 1995, the Smithsonian Institution became one of the Foundation’s earliest collaborators. 

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

The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation also provides exposure to the history and process of invention in America to the museum’s more than two million annual visitors, using the techniques of invention education to empower them to think of the ways they can solve problems in their communities. It features invention-oriented exhibitions (currently Change Your Game); 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.  

The Lemelson Center also hosts Innovative Lives, an in-person and virtual event series where inventors are invited to share their stories and offer insights into the invention ideation, development, and distribution process.

Change Your Game / Cambia tu Juego

Credit: Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

The Lemelson Center’s Change Your Game / Cambia tu juego  exhibit opened in March 2024 and explores the dynamic role of invention and technology in modern and contemporary sports. It is a bilingual and interactive installation featuring a variety of inventions created for – and even by – athletes, from innovative skateboard and snowboard designs to prostheses and adaptive sports technology.

The exhibit is designed to highlight the positive impact of technological innovation in improving athletic performance and ensuring player safety, showcase the significance of STEM in building accessibility and inclusivity in the sports industry, and inspire visitors to be changemakers in their own lives. 

Arthur Molella Distinguished Fellowship

The Foundation established an endowment for the Arthur Molella Distinguished Fellowship, in honor of the first director of the Lemelson Center, Dr. Arthur Molella. This endowment provides support for an inventor, entrepreneur, writer, or senior scholar selected for the fellowship each year.


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 6 and 12 learn to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment, and invent through a variety of activities incorporating STEM, art, history, and creativity.

Learn more about the Lemelson Center here:

Related Stories