ATHM Selected for Prestigious Smithsonian Institution “Places of Invention” Exhibit

(Lowell MA) — The American Textile History Museum has been selected to participate in the Smithsonian Institution’s prestigious “Places of Invention” exhibition project – one of only six museums in the country to earn this distinction.

The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation received a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support science education through the center’s “Places of Invention” exhibition project. “Places of Invention,” a planned 3,500-square-foot exhibition at the National Museum of American History scheduled to open in 2014, will feature a selection of “hot spots” of invention and innovation—places where a critical mass of inventive people, networks, institutions, funding and other resources come together and creativity flourishes.

“How exciting and gratifying that ATHM was selected as one of only six museums in the country to participate in the Smithsonian Institution’s ‘Places of Invention’ program,” said ATHM President Jim Coleman. “Being recognized as an innovative leader by our Smithsonian partners is an incredible honor and is testimony to our relevance in the museum sphere and world of science today.”

ATHM is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, a distinction earned by demonstrating the highest standards of quality and sharing the Smithsonian’s commitment to a mission to tell America’s story through art, history and science.

Focusing on the mid-19th century to the present, each exhibition area will have hands-on experiences based on inventive skill-building and illustrating the ways that place and social collaboration shape the inventive process.

“Scholars and the public have long been interested in the physical spaces and geographic locations that foster invention and innovation,” said Arthur Molella, director of the center. “This grant allows us to bring these stories to the public after years of work by the center in researching these ‘hot spots.’ We look forward to embarking on this next step.”

Plans include an “invent town” activity area within the exhibition where visitors can interact with each other, exchanging ideas and practicing skills; a website; and collaboration with Smithsonian Affiliate museums. “Places of Invention” represents a new model in exhibition design where content is co-created in a collaborative manner by the center, professional partners and the public.

ATHM will be working with community partners to create an exhibit to showcase how the Merrimack Valley region has continuously been on the cutting edge of invention and innovation since the textile industry boom of the 1820s. The exhibit will honor the relationship between generations of innovation and invention, building on what came before to create the future.

Lemelson Center is dedicated to exploring invention in history and encouraging inventive creativity in young people. It is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy established by one of the country’s most prolific inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The Lemelson Center is located in the National Museum of American History. For more information, visit

About the American Textile History Museum
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA, tells America’s story through the art, history, and science of textiles. In addition to its core exhibition, “Textile Revolution: An Exploration through Space and Time” and rotating special exhibitions, ATHM holds the world’s largest and most important publicly held collections of tools, spinning wheels, hand looms, and early production machines, as well as more than five million pieces of textile prints, fabric samples, rolled textiles coverlets, and costumes.