Dare Bigger™ Moments: Inventing in America 

Kevlar® Dare Bigger™ Moments

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) will open “Inventing in America” July 1 in the Johnson-Louis Gateway to Innovation. Patent models, prototypes, trademark examples and inventions by National Invention Hall of Fame members will illustrate the ways that the United States has always depended on invention. 

Stephanie Kwolek, whose discoveries led to the invention of DuPont™ Kevlar®, will be featured in the exhibit through items on loan from Hagley Museum & Library, a Smithsonian affiliate. The exhibit will be on view for five years, through 2020.

Through three large-scale cases, the gateway will introduce the museum’s five million visitors to more than 70 objects that represent how inventions influenced the past and play a key role in today’s world, including Alexander Graham Bell’s experimental liquid transmitter telephone from 1876, an Apple I computer and the first digital-camera sensor, in addition to the high-strength fiber that became Kevlar®.

“More than two centuries of cumulative innovation have transformed our nation and our way of life in ways the Founding Fathers could never have imagined,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of USPTO Michelle K. Lee said in the Smithsonian press release. “This exhibit will provide an exciting opportunity for the public to “The story of Stephanie Kwolek and Kevlar® is a classic innovation tale,” said David A. Cole, Hagley Museum and Library executive director. “We were delighted to share part of her gift to us with the Smithsonian for this important exhibition.”

Stephanie Kwolek is an icon for the Dare Bigger™ platform. Her curiosity and perseverance were what led her to the first liquid crystal polymer that provided the basis for Kevlar® and earned her the National Medal of Technology in 1996. Best known for its use in ballistic and stab-resistant body armor, Kevlar® has helped to save the lives of thousands of people around the world. The use of Kevlar® has been extended to everything from fire fighter and industrial protective clothing to vehicles, fiber optic cables, mining belts, commercial aircraft and city roads. Kevlar® fiber also is used in many consumer products such as mobile phones and tires, in addition to sporting apparel, accessories and equipment.

The National Museum of American History is located on Constitution Avenue N.W. between 12th and 14th streets and is operating on summer hours from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. To plan your trip, visit americanhistory.si.edu