Blog

April 29, 2020

Object of the Week: Patent Inventions from the 1800s

Peggy Monahan, OMCA Director of Content Development, gets inspired by people’s capacity to identify a problem, imagine a solution, and then take action to build a better world.

by OMCA

Every week, OMCA staff—from curators to gallery guides—reflect on an object from the Museum's extensive collections that shares insights and inspiration for our present moment. 

From Peggy Monahan, OMCA Director of Content Development: 

In our collection, we have a number of models that were submitted as part of patent applications in the 1800s. Like this rat and mouse trap.

A patent would reward inventors for their ideas by giving them rights to control the production and use of their invention. And you can imagine people wanting an invention like this beer cooler—no one likes warm beer!

Some of these detailed models express enormous inventions, like this system of pumping and cooling for a mine. There’s a certain poetry in the way these tiny models hold their inventors’ giant hopes for the future. When I’m faced with difficult times, I think about how grateful I am for people’s capacity to identify a problem, imagine a solution, and then take action to build a better world.

What problems do you want to solve? What could you invent? Let us know in the comments.

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