In the US, there’s no better place to learn about the history of patents than the US capital city, Washington DC. The central headquarters for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is located in Alexandria, VA, right outside of DC. Due to the proximity of the USPTO, many patent law firms and patent support services (such as Landon IP, the provider of Intellogist) are located within the DC region. Many local museums in DC also host patent and invention-related exhibits, including the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum at the USPTO headquarters, an exhibit on patent models at the Smothsonian American Art Museum, and an exhibit on inventions from Muslim civilization at the National Geographic Museum.
After the jump, learn more about these three innovative exhibits that you can visit in Washington DC!
National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum
Location: Atrium of the USPTO’s Madison Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA
Dates: Open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Open Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m. Closed on Sundays and federal holidays.
Description: According to the USPTO website, the National Inventors Hall of Fame moved from Akron, Ohio to the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia in 2009 when it became part of the USPTO Museum. “The new venue features interactive exhibits, a high definition video theatre and a portrait gallery. In the gallery historical and living figures come to life and talk about the history of invention and the USPTO. There is also a gift shop.”
The current exhibition that runs through October 2012 is titled Exercising Ingenuity, and it “highlights inventions, patents, and trademarks that have emerged from the fitness, nutrition, and exercise industries.”
Inventing a Better Mousetrap: Patent Models from the Rothschild Collection
Location: 2nd floor South, American Art Museum (8th and F Streets, N.W.)
Dates: November 11, 2011 – November 3, 2013
Description: The Smithsonian website gives the following description of the exhibit:
The exhibition Inventing a Better Mousetrap features thirty-two models illustrating the wide variety of nineteenth-century patented inventions submitted by inventors from across the United States. All of the models on display are from the collection of Alan Rothschild, whose holdings of 4,000 patent models is the largest private assemblage of American patent models anywhere.
I’ve personally been to this exhibit, and any patent professional or technology enthusiast should take an afternoon to visit this small but breathtaking display of the ingenuity and artistry that went into the creation of patent models in the 19th century. The models are divided into displays based on use (“domestic life, leisure, and machinery”), and my favorite section of the exhibit was a selection of “mystery models” that visitors could guess the uses for before peeking at a laminated sheet containing the answers.
Location: National Geographic Society, 1145 17th St., Northwest Washington, 20036
Dates: August 3, 2012 - February 3 2013
Cost: Adults – $8, Members/Military/Seniors (over 62)/Students/Groups (25+) – $6, Children (ages 5-12) – $4, School & Youth Groups (18 and under) – Free
Description: The National Geographics website provides the following overview of the exhibit:
1001 Inventions is a global educational initiative that promotes awareness of scientific and cultural achievements from the ‘Golden Age’ of Muslim Civilisation and how those contributions helped build the foundations of our modern world. The 1001 Inventions exhibition was named the Best Touring Exhibition of the Year at the Museums and Heritage Excellence Awards in 2011. This highly interactive exhibition showcases the historic advancements in navigation, medicine, hydraulics, optics, mathematics and more.
Humanity has displayed incredible innovation throughout history and across cultures, and these three museum exhibits highlight only a small cross-section of innovative technology that patents are meant to protect and encourage.
This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.