HomeEducationCoin ExhibitsSmithsonian Embraces Entrepreneurial Spirit, Opens American Innovation Wing

Smithsonian Embraces Entrepreneurial Spirit, Opens American Innovation Wing


New Exhibit Features the National Numismatic Collection

By CoinWeek News Staff….

On Wednesday, July 1, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. officially opened the Innovation Wing of the National Museum of American History. There were educational demonstrations, live jazz and hip-hop performances, and even an attempt to build the world’s largest American flag out of LEGOs. The newly renovated 45,000 square foot west wing houses several interactive exhibits centering around invention and the entrepreneurial spirit, including:

  • American Enterprise – Chronicling the tumultuous interaction of capitalism and democracy in the business of this country.
  • Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction 1780-1910 – Where guests will learn about how newspaper hoaxes, works of popular science, novels, and more exposed the public to new ideas.
  • Inventing in America – A collaboration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that will focus on inventions and innovators of the past and present.
  • Inventive Minds – A gallery which will introduce visitors to the mission and work of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, and its efforts to document invention.
  • Mr. Wizard – A temporary exhibit from the Museum’s archives features a selection of personal papers, files and other items belonging to the late Don Herbert (“Mr. Wizard” on the Nickelodeon cable network).
  • Object Project – A learning space featuring “everyday things that changed everything, exploring how people, innovative things, and social change shaped life as we know it.”
  • Places of Invention – A visitor’s journey through time and place across America to discover the stories of how people lived and died all in the pursuit of something new.
  • Spark!Lab – Where the museum invites children between the ages of 6 and 12 to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment, and invent through activities which incorporate traditional science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with art, museum, and creativity.

The news is of special interest to numismatists because the Innovation Wing is also housing an exhibit entitled “The Value of Money”, which features and takes advantage of the rich resources of the National Numismatic Collection.

If you’re heading to the nation’s capital for your Fourth of July weekend, The National Museum will open at 10:00 a.m and close at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 4. It closes at 7:30 p.m. the rest of the summer.

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  1. It’s a shame that the numismatic exhibits don’t have a couple of official docents available. During a few recent visits I and a few fellow collectors found ourselves serving as impromptu guides, both explaining the history of many of the pieces, and more importantly disabusing people of many misunderstandings about everything from the metal content of cents* to the famous $100,000 gold certificates. Think how much interest in our hobby could be generated if the Smithsonian had someone on staff (as they do in other parts of the museum) to share their enthusiasm!

    * FWIW, the exhibit itself has goofs in the dates shown for composition changes….


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