On April 13th, the first day of the Cambridge Science Festival, the MIT Museum will also open its newest exhibition, "Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things." The exhibit will be on view in the Thomas Peterson '57 Gallery through September 1.
Originating in Germany, this traveling exhibition was developed by the Vitra Design Museum in cooperation with Hi-Cone, and includes cases of objects, patent drawings, movies and advertising posters. Showcasing the importance of design in engineering, this array of 36 classic objects embodies ideals of modernism that are both relevant and popular among students and young people.
"This exhibition is an opportunity to have fun learning about the history of commonplace things that most of us usually take for granted," says John Durant, MIT Museum director. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn the history of objects that just might have shaped history — like the fact that the tin can was invented after Napoleon Bonaparte started a competition to find ways to carry basic food supplies for his armies.
Most of the objects have remained essentially unchanged for decades — items like clothespins, paperclips, tin cans and even the multi-pack ring carrier have stood the test of time for their durability and their utility — and their stories delight. Eponymous items like Band-Aids and Scotch tape are in most homes, and like other objects in the exhibition such as light bulbs and teabags, they are not what visitors typically expect to see in a museum. Presented here, in the context of each object’s creation and development, is the underlying story of the marriage of education, industry and invention.
The Museum will be following the back-story of this exhibition as well. Twenty-two cases are being shipped from Germany, and the Museum will be posting progress about their movement on the Museum's Facebook page to give a fuller explanation of the challenges of international traveling exhibitions.