Innovation Wing opens at National Museum of American History

July 1, 2015

With her late husband, Jerome, museum donor Dorothy Lemelson, second from right, has been instrumental in creating the Innovation Wing.  Shown with her at the June 24 opening ceremony for the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation are, left to right, Lemelson Center Director Dr. Arthur Molella, Lemelson Foundation Executive Director Carol Dahl and Lemelson Foundation Vice President and Secretary Robert Lemelson.

The National Museum of American History reopens the first floor of its West Wing today after extensive renovations. The floor celebrates America's innovative spirit through new exhibitions, interactive displays, a learning lab and performance spaces. The transformation of the 45,000-square-foot floor was made possible by gifts from many donors.

The American Enterprise exhibition in the Mars Hall of American Business chronicles the country's development from a small, dependent agricultural nation to one of the world's most vibrant economies. The Places of Invention exhibition explores invention hotspots across the country, and The Value of Money exhibition features the National Numismatic Collection, one of the Smithsonian's oldest and most treasured collections.

In the Draper Spark!Lab, young inventors explore, experiment and test out their own inventions, while teachers attend educational workshops and access distance learning initiatives in the SC Johnson Conference Center. Americans' quest for the new is showcased in the Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza where visitors are further engaged through performances, demonstrations and lectures.  

"Our goal is to make history essential by presenting the compelling ideas and ideals of America and animating them through transformative experiences," said John Gray, the museum's Elizabeth MacMillan director.  "History museums are active places."

The second and third floors of the West Wing will be devoted to democracy, immigration and American culture and are being transformed with public funds and private gifts. They will reopen in 2017 and 2018.

Read more about the new Innovation Wing by clicking here

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