Exhibitions

Eli Whitney Museum

Show Menu
The 21st Leonardo Challenge

Uncharted Imagination

Uncharted Imagination thumbnail

Not long ago travelers consulted paper maps distributed by service stations gratuitously, but difficult to refold. Today watches, phones and cars themselves provide directions, sometimes with animated updates and commentary voiced in dulcet but skeptical tones. A decade has transformed the ancient arts of cartography radically. Early maps recorded star patterns that marked changing seasons. Now the celestial robots of GPS guide us to lost car keys. Early maps defined the boundaries of unknown territories. Now we wonder if there is any space unmapped. We need a map to track the changing meanings of all these maps.

Learn More...
The Gilbert Project

Mr. Gilbert's Railroad

The Museum's Annual Exhibition of American Flyer Trains
Mr. Gilbert's Railroad thumbnail

Classic toy trains produced by New Haven's A.C. Gilbert Company still run beautifully after 50 years. See them in action at the Eli Whitney Museum's annual hands on exhibition of American Flyer Trains.

Learn More...
The 20th Leonardo Challenge

Knot What You Imagine

Knot What You Imagine thumbnail

The Knot

A knot is a simple or elaborate twist and interlacing of fibers. The knot's structure makes the fibers into something new: a tool, a weapon, an ornament, a calculation, a message. Snare a rabbit. Net a fish. Lash a sail. Cinch a saddle. Gird your loins. Plait your hair. These ordinary bindings are nodes of civilization. Or a knot can be personal. Touch your navel. It remembers the knot that first defined you as an individual.

Learn More...
2013 Exhibition

The Erector Set at 100

What to Make of It?
The Erector Set at 100 thumbnail

Alfred Carlton Gilbert, a 1909 Yale graduate, had lingered in New Haven to produce and sell magic tricks. In 1911, he watched the steel tower construction to electrify the New Haven Railroad’s access to the new Grand Central Terminal. Steel and electricity were reinventing America. Gilbert invented the Erector Set to capture that spirit.

Learn More...

The 19th Leonardo Challenge

Brush With Genius

Brush With Genius thumbnail

Consider the Lady with an Ermine, Leonardo's stunning portrait of Cecelia, the mistress of Ludovice Sforza, the Duke of Milan and Leonardo's patron. The painting brims with movement, with immediacy, and with bold brushwork. Leonardo paints in the new medium of oils.

Learn More...
The 18th Leonardo Challenge

Enumerated Invention

Fibonacci Spiral

Numbers
In the late middle ages, a new arithmetic followed the spice trade from India to Italy on Arab ships. It brought place value, simplified calculation, and the digits we recognize as our own. These were the type of numbers Gutenberg needed for his press. These are the numbers that Leonardo learned in his apprenticeship with Verrocchio.

Learn More...
The 17th Leonardo Challenge

Reflected Creativity

save-the-date-1a

The Mirror
Our earliest ancestor recognized a face reflected in a pool of still water: there began the evolution of our idea of self. Ancient cultures captured reflections in stone, iron, coal, copper, silver, and glass. In mirrors, priests and magicians saw prophecies and vessels of the soul. Mirrors educated artists and scientists. As a child, you noticed your mother's furtive glance at her face in a compact's tiny glass. You suspected this attention was not for you.

Learn More...
The 16th Leonardo Challenge

Cap & Caprice

Leonardo-16-logo

A little over a hundred years ago, the tiny crown cap opened a revolution. Its tin-plated disc of thin steel, pleated round its edge, compressed a sliver of cork over the lip of a bottle's deliberately slender neck. Coca Cola escaped the confines of the Drug Store fountain. Beer left the tavern. We christened the machine age of drink.

Learn More...

The 15th Leonardo Challenge

Unruly Invention

Leo-2009

Each of us can remember the first ruler that we carried to school: in the beginning useful for drawing lines, hinting at important reckoning yet to come. You may recall improvising applications for that ruler that were neither straight nor measured. A paradox of creativity: sometimes invention requires a broken rule.

Learn More...
2008 Exhibition

Gilbert and Magnetism

Perhaps it was destiny that made magnetism as essential a force in A.C. Gilbert's empire of experiments. William Gilbert – a distant ancestor of A. C. – published De Magnete, Magneticisque Corperibus, et de Magno Magnete Tellure (On the Magnet and Magnetic Bodies, and the Great Magnet the Earth), in 1600.

Learn More...
The Gilbert Project

Magnetic Fun and Facts

Magnetic Fun and Facts Set

Gilbert introduced his first magnetism set in 1923. In 2008, Alex Kronman redesigned the Gilbert magnet experiments to preserve the tradition of curious exploration for a new generation of young hands.

Learn More...
The 14th Leonardo Challenge

Keys to Creativity

Keys to Creativity Logo

The Challenge: Find a key. Twist the key or its meaning. Insert or duplicate or cut or connect or color or conceal keys. Assemble new forms. Unlock new meanings. Let the keys start something.

Learn More...

Pages


Back to Top