Twenty years ago today, the Smithsonian launched its online presence. Even though the Lemelson Center had only been in existence for about four months, we were one of the handful of websites that debuted that day.
Our first site was cobbled together with HTML learned on the fly. Only a black-and-white printout of that first site still exists.
We added a dash of color and played with background graphics next.
And then we had our first professional design done in 1998.
We added a separate site as the companion to the Invention at Play exhibtion in 2002.
By 2004, we needed an updated look and feel.
And in 2009, we launched a modest website for our new Spark!Lab.
After 10 years, we had outgrown our site both in the way it was organized and the way it looked and functioned. We were also feeling a bit scattered from having three different sites to maintain. So we decided to start not just a redesign but a complete rethinking of our web presence. We wanted to create a site that took advantage of cutting-edge web technologies. We needed a site that reflected our interrelated interests in the history of invention and invention education. We insisted on a user-friendly site, as accessible on a smartphone as on a desktop computer. And we aspired to a site that conveyed our organizational personality that embraces dedication, vision, and a touch of whimsy.
We hope you enjoy exploring our new site, 20 years in the making.