The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation
Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian Beanie Illustration
MIND: Documenting Invention

Inventing | Documenting | Things to Collect | Resources


Inventors often engage in open-ended exploration, or tinkering. While these activities may seem random or meaningless, tinkering offers inventors the chance to learn about materials, develop new skills, and consider new possibilities. Evidence of tinkering, such as material samples and unfinished projects, may be difficult to identify and not particularly interesting to collect as artifacts. Nevertheless, tinkering should be understood if it is important to your subject, and can be captured with photography and video and through oral history interviews.

Last Update: 27 Oct 2010

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