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Doodles, Drafts, and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian  
Explore the ExhibitionView the ObjectsInnovators Gallery

Working It Out

Detail Images: (above) Evans Dual-purpose Streamlined Auto-Railers trade literature cover, 1920-30s ; (upper right) Eric Meter Systems trade literature cover (detail), 1930


Engineers, inventors, and designers produce drawings as part of their creative process. They draw to work out and refine concepts and details. They draw to persuade. They draw to give direction. And they draw to record their ideas and to learn from others.

This exhibition presents examples of industrial drawings in the collections of the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Some are working drawings, ideas sketched in pencil or ink. Others are more finished, designed for presentation. A few are printed, either as sales material or as part of a patent application. They visually document American industrial creativity, from inventor's hand and investor's boardroom, to patent office, factory floor, and manufacturer's showroom.

As you look at these drawings and printed documents, think about their aesthetic merit and the ways they reflect the skills and knowledge of their creators. But also consider their purpose. These drawings capture on paper key aspects of technological and industrial process. They document thought, organization, work, and production.

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