Places of Invention

Mayo-Gibbon Heart-Lung Machine, about 1957

National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

1st Floor, West Wing, Lemelson Center Gallery Floor Plan

What kind of place stimulates creative minds and sparks a surge of invention and innovation? The answer may surprise you. Journey through time and place to discover the stories of people who lived, worked, played, collaborated, adapted, took risks, solved problems, and sometimes failed—all in the pursuit of something new. The exhibition examines what can happen when the right mix of inventive people, untapped resources, and inspiring surroundings come together.

Case studies include:

  • precision manufacturing in Hartford, Connecticut, in the late 1800s
  • Technicolor in Hollywood, California, in the 1930s
  • medical innovations in Medical Alley, Minnesota, in the 1950s
  • hip-hop’s birth in the Bronx, New York, in the 1970s
  • the rise of the personal computer in Silicon Valley, California, in the 1970s and 1980s
  • clean-energy innovations in Fort Collins, Colorado, in the 2010s

Companion book: Places of Invention

Related website: Tell us your places of invention stories!