Visit the reopened National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum
Blog by Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO
The great-granddaughter of inventor Edward Bullard visits the exhibit dedicated to his invention, the hard hat, at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum (Photo courtesy of the National Inventors Hall of Fame)
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) Museum is now open to the public! Located at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, there is something for everyone inside the storied walls of this tribute to American innovation and ingenuity.
Whether you’re looking for an exciting weekend activity for the family, or a fun and educational field trip for students, the NIHF Museum’s broad variety of exhibits does not disappoint.
Upon entering the NIHF Museum (perhaps after a quick stop in the gift shop) you’ll see the “Gallery of Icons.” Search through over 600 NIHF inductees using any keyword, or narrow your search by state, university, military branch, or induction year. The 2022 class of inductees are easily spotted as they are illuminated in yellow. To be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, an inventor must hold a U.S. patent, as well as contribute significantly to the nation's welfare and the advancement of science and the useful arts.
Step inside a one-of-a-kind 1965/2015 Ford Mustang and see how 50 years of technological innovations have changed the way we interact with our cars. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)
You can see and feel the evolution of automotive design and technology from behind the wheel of a car that merges Ford Mustang models from 1965 and 2015. Sponsored by Ford Motor Co., this one-of-a-kind, interactive exhibit showcases 50 years of iconic innovation. Or, discover the value of intellectual property when you visit the “Power of Trademarks” exhibit sponsored by the International Trademark Association (INTA). There is no better way to learn what trademark protection means for the brands you know and trust.
Inventor Lonnie Johnson, pictured with an early prototype of the Super Soaker® toy, on display at the NIHF Museum. (Photo courtesy of the National Inventors Hall of Fame)
In addition to the classic, long-standing displays, the museum now offers nine fascinating new exhibits that highlight diversity and inclusion in innovation. With a focus on underrepresented communities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), a few of the new exhibits include:
• “Breaking Barriers: Honoring Extraordinary Black Inventors”: Developed in collaboration with the Black Inventors Hall of Fame, you will be inspired by the fascinating stories of Inductees such as Thomas Jennings, the first known Black inventor to be awarded a U.S. patent.
• “Women in Innovation”: Featuring powerful interviews with women and girls in STEM, this exhibit, created in partnership with Qualcomm, will captivate you with a historic look at breakthroughs and patents of women inventors who changed our world, such as Martha Coston, Maria Telkes, and Marian Croak.
• The Super Soaker® Prototype Exhibit: A story of perseverance and dedication, learn about 2022 Inductee Lonnie Johnson, who brought his innovative spirit to an unexpected industry when he created one of the world’s bestselling toys.
• “Invention: The Sky Is the Limit”: Follow the action-packed journey of 2022 Inductee Floyd Smith, inventor of the modern parachute. The exhibit features a replica parachute, on display in the Madison atrium at the USPTO headquarters, and an exhilarating virtual skydive.
The replica parachute installation at the USPTO honors inventor Floyd Smith. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)
The National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum brings invention to life, showcasing everything from world-changing high-tech inventions, to sports and automobile innovations, to best-selling products like the Super Soaker® toy. Through world class exhibits, education programs and materials, it shows us how exciting invention, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship are, and how people from all walks of life can truly change the world for the better. Perhaps above all, it reminds us that we are all born with the innate ability to create and innovate – and that, just maybe, we too can apply that ability to make the world a little bit better for everyone.
The NIHF Museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET on the first Saturday of the month. Access to the museum is free, and no appointments or tickets are required. If you can’t make it to the museum in person, NIHF offers virtual tours on the museum’s website. The museum gift shop offers souvenirs, books, toys, and USPTO-branded apparel and drinkware.
Students explore erupting ice volcanos as part of the 2022 Camp Invention activities. (Photo courtesy of the National Inventors Hall of Fame)
And don’t worry, the fun and learning doesn’t stop at the museum! Throughout the year, NIHF offers various programs, tools, and opportunities for students of all ages. As we enter the summer season, Camp Invention is kicking off. Open to students entering grades K-6, this STEM summer camp offers hands-on creative activities designed to inspire students. Throughout the summer, over 2,500 camp programs run nationwide in schools, community centers, and other local facilities. You can even participate with an at-home camp experience, delivered directly to your doorstep.
In partnership with the USPTO, the National Inventors Hall of Fame has inspired 2.7 million children, educators, college students, and inventors since 1990, and 264,000 in 2021 alone. NIHF was established in 1973 to honor U.S. patent holders whose inventions created new industries that employ millions of people and helped to stimulate economic growth for our nation and beyond. For any questions about the USPTO’s partnership with NIHF, or to organize a tour or group visit to the museum please contact email@example.com.
Hope to see you at the museum!