What do former President Jimmy Carter, a model John Deere tractor, and an airline ticket folder from 1987 have in common? All are part of “American Enterprise,” a new exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
The exhibit traces the country’s development from a small, dependent agricultural nation to one of the world’s most vibrant economies, and aims to help visitors understand America’s business past in order to chart the future.?John Deere is a sponsor of the exhibit, which opened on this summer.
“This relationship is an opportunity to collaborate on topics of food and agriculture through the lens of the most visited history museum in the world,” said Neil Dahlstrom, manager of corporate history and records service management for Deere.
The ‘American Enterprise’ exhibit demonstrates that history is not only about the past, but just as much about the future.”
Agriculture Featured in American Enterprise Exhibit
“Our longevity and vibrancy as a company puts us in a unique position to tell stories and share experiences that other companies can’t replicate,” he said. “The ‘American Enterprise’ exhibit demonstrates that history is not only about the past, but just as much about the future, and we are excited to help Smithsonian visitors better understand the vital role that business and agriculture play in that future.”
Deere’s role is as the primary program sponsor, which entails sharing information and supporting ongoing programs. One program, “Ask a Farmer,” gives museum visitors an opportunity to connect with farmers across the country via a live video feed.
Other programs include “Big Questions in American Agriculture,” a discussion and demonstration series highlighting current topics in American agriculture; “Museum Collections: Objects Out of Storage,” where visitors will have an opportunity to get up close with artifacts in the museum’s collections related to food and agriculture; and “Taste Buds,” a Saturday morning kids cooking series.
“American Enterprise” is a 20-year installation, with several rotating exhibit cases to highlight different topics over time. An 8,000 square-foot gallery houses more than 600 objects, and is the anchor exhibition in the museum’s new Innovation Wing.
Seeing John Deere at the National Museum of American History
Currently, a Model 8630 toy tractor shares a space with Jimmy Carter’s Future Farmers of America jacket, and a Model 530 toy tractor is in a section on the importance of trademarks, referring specifically to green and yellow.
An interactive touch-screen display features napkin inventions, including a drawing by Deere engineer Terrill Woods on the back of an airline ticket portfolio. The drawing, made in 1987, outlined what became the 8000 Series Tractor, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.
John Deere is also represented in the “Advertising History” section, which highlights the phrase “Nothing Runs Like a Deere.”
The National Museum of American History is the most visited history museum in the world, with more than 5 million visitors annually, or 10,000-30,000 per day, and 16 million visitors online. More than 750,000 school children visit the museum every year.
John Deere’s Relationship with the Smithsonian
Deere’s participation in the new exhibit builds on a long-standing relationship with the Smithsonian, beginning when Deere & Company donated the oldest existing John Deere plow, made in 1838, to the museum in 1938. In 2014, the Smithsonian identified this plow as one of the “101 Objects that Made America.” The museum also has a Waterloo Boy tractor and a Model D tractor in its collections.
To learn more about the National Museum of Natural History exhibit, visit the “American Enterprise” website.