National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
1st Floor, West Wing, Showcase Floor Plan
This showcase commemorates the 100th anniversary of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards). This federal agency is responsible for setting and making available the nation's standards of weights and measures, conducting research related to standards, and helping American industries stay at the forefront of technological innovation. Such objects as the platinum meter bar (the U.S. standard of length from 1893 to 1960), a sample of standard household dust (for use in studies of lead poisoning), and a box of Crayola crayons (named according to the 1955 Dictionary of Colors) illustrate the challenges the agency faced in developing standards acceptable to American science, industry, and the public.