Monica M. Smith

  • What I do, where I work

  • I am the Exhibition Program Manager for the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History (NMAH). My primary role is serving as project director and Principal Investigator for the Center’s NSF-funded “Places of Invention” exhibition project. Previously, I was the project historian and then became the second project director/PI (after Gretchen Jennings) for the Center’s NSF-funded “Invention at Play” (IAP) traveling exhibition, which won an AAM Excellence in Exhibition award in 2003 and also a MUSE Gold Medal for its companion Web site The 3,500-SF traveling version of IAP, now on display in NMAH’s Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Hall of Invention, along with a smaller traveling version together have welcomed more than 3 million visitors nationally. My other NMAH exhibition projects include currently serving as an interpretive planner for the in-development “Time and Navigation” exhibition, a collaborative NMAH-National Air and Space Museum project, and previously co-curating “From Frying Pan to Flying V: The Rise of the Electric Guitar” and its ever-popular companion web site. I recently authored a chapter about the IAP exhibition for a new book “Museums at Play: Games, Interaction and Learning” (2011), and also authored the cover article “The Electric Guitar: How We Got from Andres Segovia to Kurt Cobain” for American Heritage of Invention and Technology magazine (summer 2004). I have conducted numerous radio and TV interviews about the invention of the electric guitar, and am a featured speaker on the Smithsonian Channel’s CINE award-winning film “Electrified: The Guitar Revolution.” I have also written about a variety of invention topics for encyclopedia articles, web sites, and blogs, and frequently present at professional conferences and public programs. In addition to my tenure at the Lemelson Center since 1995, I served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Museum Education from 2005 to 2008.


  • Former Editor at Journal of Museum Education

  • Lead Project Coordinator at Lemelson Center, National Museum of American History

  • Project Historian/Exhibits Specialist at Lemelson Center, National Museum of American History


Recent publications & presentations