Throughout American history, women with diverse backgrounds and interests created inventions that changed lives every day. But women haven’t always had equal opportunities to be inventors or received as much recognition. The Smithsonian and the United States Patent and Trademark Office present “Picturing Women Inventors,” a poster exhibition that explores the inventions of 19 highly accomplished American women. Astronauts, computer pioneers, and businesswomen join athletes, engineers, and even teenagers in this remarkable group of inventors. This poster exhibition was designed to educate and inspire young people to see themselves as future inventors. The posters will be on view at DCA through September 25.
Photo: Twelve-year-old Alexis Lewis with her adaptation of a traditional Native American sled, called a travois, a creation to simplify the way to transport families and their belongings in Somalia. Photo by Michelle Fishburne, courtesy of Alexis Lewis.
“Picturing Women Inventors” showcases the breakthroughs, motivations, and challenges women encountered while pursuing their goals as inventors. The poster exhibition highlights stories of inventors like Marilyn Hamilton, who after a hang-gliding accident in 1978 left her paralyzed, invented a lightweight wheelchair that was easy to maneuver. Diversity of background and age are showcased including inventor Alexis Lewis, who at 12-years-old in 2011 was inspired to adapt a traditional Native American sled, called a travois, by adding wheels to create a simpler way to transport families and their belongings in Somalia.
“Picturing Women Inventors” is distributed to schools, libraries, museums, and community organizations by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It’s sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies IF/THEN Initiative and Ericsson.
The Lemelson Center has led the study of invention and innovation at the Smithsonian since 1995. The center’s activities advance scholarship on the history of invention, share stories about inventors and their work and nurture creativity in young people. The center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation and located in the National Museum of American History.
Photo: Marilyn Hamilton on the cover of Sports ‘N Spokes magazine playing in the US Open Tennis Championship using the lightweight wheelchair she invented with two friends in 1979. Photo by Nancy Crase, courtesy of Sports ‘N Spokes
For more information on programs and events at DCA, or current grant opportunities, visit www.dorchesterarts.org, call 410-228-7782, or stop by 321 High Street in Cambridge. DCA is currently open Thursday noon-8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Saturdays until 8:00 p.m. For the latest updates, find us on Facebook!