Picturing Women Inventors

Smithsonian Poster Exhibition Highlighting the History of Women Inventors in the United States


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. The posters will be on view at Museum of Friends.


“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.


This poster exhibition was designed to educate and inspire young people to see themselves as future inventors.


“Picturing Women Inventors” is distributed at no cost 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.


SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit www.sites.si.edu.


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. For more information, visit www.invention.si.edu.

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