Thursday, May 17, 2012

Smithsonian's Business History Exhibit Taking Shape

The National Museum of American History is planning a new exhibition for 2015 (originally scheduled for 2014) that will explore a key area of the American experience—the history of business and innovation. Entitled American Enterprise, the exhibition will "look at how the United States developed from a loosely integrated set of colonies and frontier people to the most influential national economy in the world. It will present the benefits, failures, and unanticipated consequences of the nation’s business development. The central theme of the exhibition will be the American marketplace–the dynamic interplay of consumers and producers." The curators of the exhibit have established a website that will open the research and exhibition process to the public. Through regular blog posts readers will "learn about research trips and the issues and artifacts that the team is considering. . . . The museum is looking for interesting ideas about new artifacts to collect, topics to pursue, related personal experiences and to test ideas through surveys."
   The exhibit will take the form of chronological "marketplaces": merchant, corporate, consumer, global; the early stages of each can now be explored on the website. Readers can follow the project's blog for updates on progress and ideas. Eric Hintz, historian with the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, is a curator of the exhibit.