Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Changing displays in the History Highlights Cases

Where: American History Museum

When: through April 20, 2014

Just inside the Constitution Avenue entrance (tip: if you're visiting Natural History or American History, enter from this side; it's much less crowded than the Mall entrances) to the American History Museum are several large display cases lining the walls.  They have changing exhibits that are meant to provide a taste of what's on display throughout the museum.  They can be interesting, but the cases themselves are not very eye-catching, so it's quite easy to just pass by them without seeing what's inside.

There are three of the displays which are currently scheduled to change in April.  I'd seen the one on the Girl Scouts some time ago (when it had an earlier closing date), but the display on the "Birth of Biotech" and "Invention and the Patent Model" were new to me.   Neither of these are must see displays, but they are informative.  The one on biotechnology focuses largely on the development of human insulin, which has made the lives of diabetics much easier.  The sponsor is Genentech, and they get a lot of attention in this case.  Something about that didn't sit well with me; it seemed as if they were paying for product placement.

No such worries with the patent model displays.  The inventors are not household names, and I'm guessing most of them (if not all) are no longer with us on the earthly plane.  I was strongly reminded of the patent model display at the Portrait Gallery/Museum of American Art, but I couldn't recall if I'd seen any of these specific patent models in that show.

Verdict: Have a look at the display cases the next time you're at American History - there's some good stuff there, even if it is hidden in plain sight.

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