(Photo courtesy of Hagley Museum)
The history of the U.S. intellectual property system is always more fascinating when patent models — what we might now call prototypes — are involved. The small-scale models of past innovations, carefully crafted works of art in 30 centimeters or less, tell stories of the history of invention — from the problems they solved to the process of creation to the protection of ideas.
Hagley Museum and Library, home of the largest private collection of patent models in the world, often shares parts of its collection outside its own museum space (you may have seen some of the patent models on display at The Mill), but its new exhibition, “Spirit of Invention: Nineteenth-Century U.S. Patent Models from the Hagley Museum and Library,” is going father than most.
In partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing, the exhibition will travel to four cities in China starting this month and is expected to engage a projected audience of more than 1 million visitors. (It should be noted that China has been accused of rampant intellectual-property theft in recent years.)
“This exhibition and partnership between Hagley and Tsinghua University provides a unique opportunity to celebrate a shared interest in the importance of a robust intellectual property system,” said Sen. Chris Coons. “Hagley is using this one-of-a-kind exhibition to encourage a constructive dialogue between the U.S. and China on the role of intellectual property in a modern economy.”
“Spirit of Invention” is comprised of 60 U.S. patent models representing a broad spectrum of industries, dating from 1836 to 1890. Over the next six months, it will visit:
- Tsinghua University Art Museum, Beijing: March 27–May 6
- Shenzhen Guan Shanyue: June 3–28
- Shanghai Liu Haisu Art Museum: July 5–Aug. 8
- Wuhan Yangtze River Civilization Museum: Aug. 15–Sept. 24
Portions of “Spirit of Invention” will be incorporated into a comprehensive exhibition scheduled to open in Hagley’s Visitor Center in Wilmington in 2020.
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