Rodney Mullen visited the Smithsonian (on invitation) as part of the Lemelson Center’s informal initiative to build relationships with skateboarding’s innovators. Your response may be “What the what?” Or at least, what is the Lemelson Center and why do they care about skateboarding? Technically, it’s the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, and it was established in 1995 under the larger umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution. But why skateboarding? According to deputy director Jeff Brodie:
Most associate invention and innovation with technology and science, but the Center often explores other unexpected places where invention and innovation flourishes—like skateboarding. This wide exploration is critical to fostering an appreciation for the central role invention and innovation play in the history of the United States. It also makes our work extremely interesting, fun, and exciting as we meet, collaborate, and explore the world of invention and innovation with all types of people.
And it doesn’t end with Rodney Mullen’s interview. They are planning an event to coincide with National Go Skateboarding Day called Innoskate, which will be “a major public festival that will celebrate invention and creativity in skate culture.” Watch Rodney’s interview and read a little bit about what happened behind the scenes thanks to our spy in the Smithsonian Betsy Gordon. (Thanks Betsy!)