Smithsonian Announces New Business Exhibit at American History Museum

Smithsonian Announces New Business Exhibit at American History Museum

National Museum of American History, American Enterprise, Business, HistoryThe Smithsonian Institution has revealed that the National Museum of American History will play host to a multimedia exhibition exploring the history of American business and innovation from the 1770s to the present, opening in 2015.

Tracing the nation’s “business heritage, along with benefits, failures and unanticipated consequences,” the 8,000-square-foot exhibit entitled “American Enterprise” will be a first for the museum.

The exhibition promises artefacts from four chronological eras – merchant, corporate, consumer and global marketplaces, and such delights as a New York Stock Exchange booth from 1929 and first telephones from Alexander Graham Bell. Business titans and little-known innovators and entrepreneurs will be detailed alike, as well as milestone moments in marketing – think “A Diamond is Forever” from DeBeers.

Like the museum’s long-serving transportation exhibit, “America on the Move”, the future “American Enterprise” will too be displayed for decades.

“By looking at these stories, we can learn a lot about ourselves,” says Peter Liebhold, chair of the Museum’s division of work and industry. He said of the nation’s business history, “As a nation, we continually reinvent ourselves and make changes. Thomas Jefferson, J.P. Morgan and Jack Welch all had dramatically different ideas of how the country should run, but the one thing they had in common was the idea of change and improvement. Of continually altering the system.”

Allowing the public to have their input, the Museum launched an experimental Web site last year so that the exhibition could be researched and curated by a wider audience. When the exhibition debuts, an online version will too.

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