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Published July 16, 2011, 01:10 PM

Patent models join art in new Smithsonian exhibit

WASHINGTON (AP) - A landmark Washington building once known as the "temple of invention" is revisiting its roots, hosting a new "Great Hall of American Wonders" to explore 19th-century innovations through art.

By: Brett Zongker, Associated Press

The exhibit opened Friday at the Smithsonian American Art

Museum, which now occupies the historic patent building. Curators

say the idea was sparked in part by talk of the United States

losing its edge in innovation.

Curators pulled together artworks, inventions and scientific

discoveries from the 1800s to show how Americans came to believe

they have a "special genius" for invention.

Curator Claire Perry says the early 19th century was a time of

crisis as the last founding fathers died, causing worries the

country might not survive. But many came to celebrate the nation's

innovations.

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