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Lemelson Center Travel To Collections Award

The Travel to Collections Awards Program supports research on the history of invention and innovation based on the holdings of the Museum’s Archives Center and curatorial divisions. The Archives Center holds more than 20,000 feet of archival materials. The collections are particularly strong in personal papers and business records documenting the history of American enterprise and technology.

Since 1995 the Lemelson Center has supported oral and video documentation of contemporary inventors and inventions such as the SmartLevel, a high-tech electronic level, the Gerber Cutter, a computer controlled fabric cutter invented by H. Joseph Gerber, the Sendzimir “Z” Mill for cold rolling steel invented by Tadeusz Sendzimir, and the windsurfer invented by S. Newman Darby.

To encourage use of its invention-related collections, the Lemelson Center offers awards up to $150 a day for a maxi-mum of 10 days. Awards are $150 per day for 10 business days (Monday-Friday) maximum. No additional funds will be granted for travel. The travel award may be used to cover transportation and living expenses, and copying pertinent archival resources. All funds awarded are subject to tax and non-U.S. applicants should inquire about visa status and tax implications. Scholars, graduate students, and independent researchers not residing or attending school within commuting distance of the National Museum of American History may apply for this program. Recipients must commence their research at the National Museum of American History within one year of being notified of the award. Awards may not be used to extend other Smithsonian appointments. Only one award can be offered to a visitor within a twelve-month period.

Decisions are made on the basis of recommendation and review by the Smithsonian staff.


  • Recipients must commence their research at the National Museum of American History within one year of being notified of the award.
  • Recipients are requested to submit a short report on their research at the National Museum of American History. Edited versions of or excerpts from these reports may be used in the Lemelson Center’s publications.
  • Recipients are asked to provide the Center with a copy of any publication resulting from research conducted as a result of the award.
  • Recipients are requested to participate in an informal brown bag lunch discussion at the Lemelson Center.


Application Process

Applicants must apply using the Smithsonian online application system.

Please be aware that complete applications must include the following:

  • application form;
  • current curriculum vitae or resume;
  • bibliography of relevant secondary sources;
  • statement of purpose summarizing their project and detailing why the Archives Center’s collections are essential to their research;
  • list of specific collections or resources to be consulted (see

Applicants are encouraged to consult with the Travel Award Coordinator prior to submitting a proposal. Awards will be announced in the Spring.

Contact : Alison Oswald, Archivist

Contact Address: 

Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation,
National Museum of American History, Room 1100, MRC 604,
Smithsonian Institution, P.O. Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Contact Phone: 202-633-3726

Contact Fax: 202-786-2453

Contact Email:

Program Website

Term: Maximum of 10 days

Stipend: Up to $150 a day

Deadline: December 1

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