Nation of Inventors

Nation of Inventors celebrates the American spirit of ingenuity by taking visitors on a journey from the early years of the patent system, in the 1790s, through the “golden age” of American invention, in the late 1800s. The exhibit features more than 120 patent models from Hagley’s unique collection highlighting the diverse stories of inventors from all walks of life.

Patent models are scaled representations of inventions and were part of the patent application process for nearly 100 years. Nation of Inventors showcases patent models representing innovations in a variety of industries from transportation and manufacturing to food preservation and medical devices.

In the exhibition, visitors will enjoy engaging experiences around every corner, testing their knowledge of innovation and hearing personal accounts from inventors.

Nation of Inventors is a must-see attraction for families with children, museumgoers interested in stories of innovation and invention, and visitors who are ready to rediscover Hagley.



Improvement in Boats for Duck-Shooting
Patent #17,192 • May 5, 1857
Patentee: Robert Bogle

Improvement in Brush-Making Machines
Patent #195,017 • September 11, 1877
Patentees: Thomas Jesson and Thomas Duggan​

Escutcheon Latch
Patent #7945X • December 31,1833
Patentees: Eli, Philos, and John Blake


Visiting Nation of Inventors

Nation of Inventors is located on the first two floors of Hagley’s Visitor Center. Visitors can plan to spend about 30 minutes on their self-guided tour of the exhibition.

Nation of Inventors is included with regular museum admission and free for members. With admission, visitors can explore the rest of Hagley museum, including the gunpowder works founded by E.I. du Pont in 1802, the ancestral home and gardens of the du Pont family, and more.

Hagley Museum is open year-round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

For information on group tours of Nation of Inventors visit




More about Nation of Inventors

  • The patent models in Nation of Inventors were created between 1833 and 1886.

  • Nation of Inventors not only features patent models submitted by inventors from the United States, but also models from inventors in England, France, Ireland, Russia, and Spain, demonstrating an international interest in America’s intellectual property system.

  • Though most inventors were—and are—everyday people, Nation of Inventors, includes patent models from well-known inventors and companies like Ball (Mason Jars), Jim Beam, Bissell, Corliss, Steinway, and Westinghouse.

  • Nation of Inventors presents important topics and timely themes including women inventors, Black inventors, immigrant inventors, improvements in urban living, and the ways Americans learn about and understand progress and change.


Reinventing History - Watch Hagley's exciting new video series on YouTube!





Collectors Who Contributed to Nation of Inventors

Fred Amram and Sandra Brick; Helen Baker Cushman; Edwin Tunnicliff Fox; Susan Mae Eichelberg (professional name Glendening); Jerry and Arlene Fingerman; Deborah Friedman; Alan Rothschild

Nation of Inventors Sponsors

Brookeville Fund; CSC; E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation; Elmon B. Duff Charitable Lead Annuity Trust; IDG Capital Partners; InterDigital, Inc.; Longwood Foundation; National Christian Foundation; Peachtree House Foundation; Anne Carter & Walter R. Robins, Jr. Foundation; Welfare Foundation