Sunday, December 4, 2011

Invention at Play

Where: National Museum of American History

When: through November 27, 2011

The subject of this show is invention's relationship to play, how inventors play around or tinker with ideas to come up with their inventions.   The first thing I noticed was something called "27 scraps of paper" by Arthur Ganson - it reminded me of an exhibit I saw many years ago at the Hirshhorn (prepare for weirdness) that involved picking up pieces of paper and dropping them on the floor.

The next case was a description of how a set of inventors at a company came up with a better baby stroller - interesting to see how they decide what features to add and subtract.  I also found out that Kevlar was invented by a woman, Stephanie Kwolek, who worked as a chemist at Dupont in the 1960s.  Alexander Graham Bell was also highlighted, and I found out he had what he called a "dreaming place"- the edge of a bluff in Ontario, Canada.

I confess I didn't really spend a lot of time in this exhibit.  It was filled with noisy kids, which is perfectly understandable, given the subject matter and the fact that much of the items were interactive.  Still, my tolerance for the rambunctious is limited, and I decided to beat a hasty retreat before I reached the end of my admittedly short rope.

Verdict: A great place to go with kids, but something the person looking for a bit of quiet reflection can safely miss.

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