Things to Do

The National Museum of American History Unveils Huge Renovation

There's 45,000 square feet of new exhibition space.

The National Museum of American History Unveils Huge Renovation
The global era section of the "American Enterprise" exhibit documents the time period between the 1980s and 2010s. All photos courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

You’ve probably already seen the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and Julia Child’s adorable kitchen at the National Museum of American History. Soon there’ll be a ton of new stuff to check out. On July 1, the museum unveils 45,000 square feet of newly renovated space–a monument to American enterprise and innovation housed on the west wing’s first floor.

Ralph Baer’s workshop–home to the first video game–is perhaps the greatest attraction. There’s also interactive games that put you in the shoes of an American farmer or entrepreuneur, facing difficult choices, such as whether to farm organic or non-organic milk, or switch to a greener, more expensive form of manufacturing. Here’s a preview of what you can expect when you go.

“Places of Invention” exhibit entrance in the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Hall of Invention. Locations featured in the exhibit include the Bronx, home of hip-hop, and Silicon Valley, birthplace of the personal computer.
“Farming Challenge” interactive within the “American Enterprise” exhibit’s Wallace H. Coulter Exchange Room. Pick which crops and methods to use, and find out how you would fare as a farmer.
The debut of the Fordson tractor in the 1920s marked the end of horse-drawn farming equipment. Here, it looms over traditional farming practices in the “American Enterprise” exhibit.
One of several interactives within the “American Enterprise” exhibit. Spin a wheel and try to get to the top of the “Tower of Power.”
“Mr. Peanut” and other advertising spokesmen are featured in the “American Enterprise” exhibit.
The personal workshop of Ralph Baer, considered the “Father of the Video Game.”