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Cloth, Cotton?:Dyed Design n.d

National Anthropological Archives
Black and white photoprint

Left Side Panel, Design Drawing in Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Central Panel, Design Drawing in Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Right Side Panel, Design Drawing in Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Design for a Cup and Saucer

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Fish Design for a Ceramic Plate

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Why This Robotic Medical Device Belongs in a Museum

Smithsonian Magazine

Two and a half years ago, employees at THINK Surgical, a robotic surgery development company in Fremont, California, were cleaning out a storage unit near their headquarters when they found an object that appeared to be an old robot arm.

Upon closer look, Micah Forstein, an assistant manager at the company, realized that the arm was a remnant—a prototype of an invention that had changed joint replacement surgery forever.

Called the Robodoc, the innovative robotic system allows surgeons to perform complicated hip and knee surgeries with greater precision using CT scans converted into three-dimensional virtual images for preoperative planning and computer-guided drilling. The tool has been used in more than 28,000 procedures worldwide.

Now, the fully recovered 1989 prototype will be forever memorialized in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

“It’s important for us to remember milestones in medical technology,” says Forstein.

The ROBODOC prototype at the National Museum of American History. (NMAH/SI)

The robot is the brainchild of the late veterinarian Howard "Hap" A. Paul and engineer-turned-orthopedic surgeon William Bargar, who were both working at the University of California, Davis, in the 1980s when Bargar recognized what he calls a dilemma in total hip arthroplasty, or hip replacement surgery.

In that era, implants were attached to the patient’s body with acrylic cement, an impermanent material that would eventually break down, sending the patient back under the knife.

Researchers had already attempted to eliminate the need for the faulty cement by using porous implants in which the bone could actually grow. This development addressed the problem of the deteriorating cement, but the implants were still imperfect because they were only manufactured in a few different sizes; they didn’t fit every patient’s body.

"You’d try to put them in and some would fit too tight," says Bargar, "or you’d break the bone putting it in, or some would fit too loose and it would wiggle, so it was hard to get the right size for every patient. So I had the idea to custom make these things."

Using a patient’s CT scan data along with computer-assisted design/computer-assisted manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology, Bargar could design an implant to fit a specific individual’s body. He could then transfer the design to a CAD/CAM machine that would cut the implant out of metal.

Meanwhile, on a different part of the UC Davis campus, Paul was studying joint replacement surgeries in dogs as a resident at the School of Veterinary Medicine. He couldn't bear to put a dog down for joint issues if there were alternatives, such as hip replacements. The two researchers joined forces, pursuing custom implant research in dogs.

But even with the custom implants, joint replacement surgery was flawed. While a machine made the custom implants, surgeons were still digging the cavities in patients’ bones by hand, often crudely, presenting obstacles for the insertion of the implants and paving the way for harmful consequences, such as bone splintering.

Researchers used the ROBODOC in 23 dog surgeries before attempting to use it on a human. (NMAH/SI)

On a flight home from Nice, France, where they had presented their research on the custom implants, Bargar and Paul came up with their next idea: to use a robot to cut the inverse shape of the implant in the patient for a perfect fit.

But the research fields of robotics and computers had developed independently of each other, and teaching a robot to act like a CAD/CAM machine was a new concept. After calls to many robotics manufacturers left the researchers at a dead end, Bargar’s father, a former IBM employee, put him in touch with a group at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Lab. There, researchers had developed an automated machine language but had yet to apply it in the real world.

It was the perfect match and in 1986, the researchers began collaborating on the first and only active robotic surgical system. Similarly to the CAD/CAM machine used to manufacture the implants, the robot follows the surgeon’s directions, which it receives from a computer, using this IBM-developed language.

“You have to have an idea and you have to be naive and it also helps to be lucky,” says Bargar. 

They christened their robot, Robodoc, in a nod to the popular 1987 film RoboCop. Around 1990, with IBM's support, Paul and Bargar cofounded the company Integrated Surgical Systems and convinced the FDA to allow them to do a feasibility study on a human in November 1992. Between Integrated Surgical Systems and IBM, there are ten patents (numbers 57690925776136, 5806518, 5824085, 6033415, 6322567, 643043459514756415171 and 6747646) that represent different components of the overall invention.

They had already used the robot in surgeries on 23 dogs, and although they had some trouble setting up the machine for the first human surgery, they were successful and proved the safety of the machine.

The FDA then permitted them to complete nine more human surgeries in a multicenter study (Paul participated in six of the test surgeries, but tragically he died of leukemia the day before the final test surgery in the study).

They were able to prove through these studies that the robot aided in more precise joint replacement surgery, but the procedure took longer than a traditional surgery, resulting in greater blood loss. They were able to tweak the process with suggestions from a doctor in Germany who had started using the device around the same time that Bargar’s team began the FDA multicenter studies (the EU had a different set of standards that allowed this device to be used in Europe before it was used in the U.S.).

But to incorporate the changes, the FDA required the team to complete another set of trials, and by 2006, the company was running low on funds. They closed up shop until 2007 when a Korean company called Curexo, the parent company of THINK Surgical, swooped in and provided the funds to complete the study.

The FDA finally cleared the Robodoc the next year, and today, the system is still the only active robotic surgical system (meaning the robot does the procedure itself following the surgeon's commands) used in the U.S. for orthopedic surgery.

The ROBODOC was the first active robot used in surgery. (NMAH/SI)

Judy Chelnick, an associate curator in the museum’s division of medicine and science, had been following the evolution of robotic surgery technology for years when Forstein made contact with the Smithsonian Institution after uncovering the prototype. Chelnick knew she wanted to collect a robotic medical device, but had yet to decide which one.

After seeing the robot in person in Fremont and researching the Robodoc’s history, she decided this was the most important one to collect first—because it was the first.

“It’s historical. I see it as the evolution of surgery. This is just another way to perform surgery,” says Chelnick.

In November 2016, the National Museum of American History officially inducted the Robodoc into its permanent science and medicine collections. The 72-year-old Bargar, who was present at the dedication ceremony, calls the donation to the Smithsonian a “capper” to his career. “It’s a tremendous honor. It’s probably the biggest accomplishment of my life,” he says.

Concept drawing for National Air and Space Museum Building

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
In 1958, President Eisenhower authorized the preparation of plans for the construction of a building for a National Air Museum, to be located on a site bounded by Fourth and Seventh Streets SW, Independence Avenue, and Jefferson Drive. The 1964 design by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) for "a Museum for the Space Age" was selected. However, their initial design was later modified. In July 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law a bill authorizing construction of a new building for the newly-renamed National Air and Space Museum (NASM). Congressional passage of appropriations for the construction of the new museum occurred in 1971. The final design was approved in 1972 and construction began in November of 1972. The museum opened July 1, 1976.

HOK were the architects selected. However, their original design was revised and this became the final design.

For the 1972 final design by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK), see Neg. SIA2017-018111 through 018119, SIA2017-018122 through SIA2017-018134, and 94-2479. See also Neg. SIA2017-018095 through SIA2017-018101 for initial design by HOK. For other designs for a proposed new National Air Museum see: United States, Public Building Administration 1949; McKim, Mead & White 1955; Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson 1962; and HOK's preliminary design of 1964.

Cross section through main entrance concept drawing submitted by Harbeson, Hough, Livingston and Larson, Architects created for the proposed new National Air and Space Museum building. Interior shows airplanes displayed on different levels. They were not selected.

This is the First Known Photo of the Smithsonian Castle

Smithsonian Magazine

Visitors to Washington D.C.’s National Mall inevitably find their eyes drawn to the sky-piercing spire of the Washington Monument and the dome of the Capitol. But just as iconic are the deep red sandstone walls and towers standing between the two — the Smithsonian Castle. Now, as the institution celebrates its 169th birthday, a picture from the Castle’s earliest years is going on display, writes Alex di Giovanni for the Smithsonian Archives' blog.

The 1850 photo was taken during the Castle’s construction just four years after President James K. Polk signed the legislation that created the Smithsonian. It’s the earliest known photograph of the Castle, which was designed by James Renwick with the hopes that its medieval revival style would signal the institution’s educational purpose. 

di Giovanni writes that Tom Rall of Arlington, Virginia, first brought the image to Smithsonian experts, who were able to date the photo by its image of the Castle's construction.

Brothers William and Frederick Langenheim took the photo using a process they developed and dubbed a hyalotype (they combined the Greek hyalos for glass and typos, image). In a release, the Smithsonian explains why the process, which used a glass negative, was better than what came before it:

Hyalotypes were highly detailed and accurate, while [their predecessors] usually resulted in soft, slightly fuzzy images due to the coarse paper they were printed on. The exposure time for hyalotypes was about one minute, which made the process well suited for architectural studies but impractical for portraiture.

Though the Smithsonian has hundreds of photos of the Castle in its collection, the photo is rare because it's the only one that shows the building's construction. If you look closely, you can see two completed wings and the as-yet unoccupied central portion. Only two of the Castle’s eventual nine towers are standing and a crane hovers over the North Tower. The small building in front is a workman’s shed. Here's a closer view of the image:

(original image)

When the building was completed in 1855, its setting was somewhat different than it is today. A canal cut off the Castle from the rest of downtown and the National Mall’s collection of museums and other buildings wasn’t yet complete. A fire in 1865 forced major remodeling and eventual restoration before it became the landmark it is today.

Mammal Hall, U.S. National Museum

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
There are several similar views of this image.

The original negative numbers are 16247, 16846 and 18940, but those negatives could not be found on file. The original photograph was re-scanned and given new negative and digital file numbers.

Mammal Hall with bison mounted by William Temple Hornaday in 1887 in the foreground of the South Hall of the United States National Museum (now the Arts and Industries Building). Signs label mammals as "Old World Mammals" and "American Mammals." Photograph shows the galleries constructed by Hornblower and Marshall between 1897 and 1903. Adolph Cluss' stencil in the rotunda has been painted out, presumably in preparation for Grace Lincoln Temple's design, which was completed in 1902.

Postcard of the Old National Museum

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
The Arts and Industries Building was designed by two Philadelphia architects: Adolph Cluss and Rudolph Schulze.

The postcard is numbered W27. Produced by Capitol Souvenir Company, Washington, D.C.

This postcard is located in Accession Number 11-271, which is part of Record Unit 95.

Postcard of the old National Museum, now known as the Arts and Industries building, in color. A large tree branch hangs in the foreground, above the building. The front has a white border. The message side has a printed note: "The Old National Museum is devoted to an exposition of the arts and industries, materials and methods of manufacturers, processes employed in the industrial arts, series showing the developments of arts and industries, all in vast array." The message side also has a short hand-written note: "Enjoying a wonderful time Going to Congressional Library tomorrow Margaret Keller." The postcard is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Z.J. Ireland and it is postmarked April 13, 1939.

Postcard of the Smithsonian Institution Castle

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
The Smithsonian Institution Castle was designed by architect James Renwick, Jr. Construction was completed in 1855. The statue out front is of Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian (term 1846-1878).

The postcard is numbered M536: 8388 on the front. These numbers most likely indicate when the card was produced.

This postcard is located in Accession #11-271, which is part of Record Unit 95.

For other versions of this postcard, see Negative Numbers SIA2013-06639 and SIA2013-06640; Negative Numbers SIA2013-07210 and SIA2013-07211.

Postcard of the Smithsonian Institution Building, or Castle, and statue of first Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry. There are several people in front of the Castle. The message side is blank, but there is a printed note about the Smithsonian: "The Smithsonian Institution was founded in 1846 by the generosity of James Smithson, 'for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.' Its purpose is to stimulate, encourage and reward scientific investigation and study." The front has a white border.

Link Love: 1/30/2015

Smithsonian Institution Archives
The culture and university district of “Olympicopolis” will be created on this triangular site (4.5 acres). The site is in front of the London Aquatics Centre and a few hundred yards from the former Olympic Stadium and ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture and observation tower. Courtesy of Kevin Allen/London Legacy Development Corp. (LLDC)

Keepers of The Streak TRAILER from Neil Leifer Productions on Vimeo.

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Smithsonian Institution Building After Fire of 1865

Smithsonian Archives - History Div

The Smithsonian Institution Building, the "Castle," after the fire of January 24, 1865. The roof on the Main Hall is missing. Within three days of the fire a temporary roof was installed over the Lower Main Hall to protect the collections. That roof remained in place until the spring of 1867 when it was replaced with an iron and slate roof designed by Adolf Cluss.

Lidded Jar with Pronounced Rib Design

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Tall White Vase, Mondrian-like Design

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Blanket Design of the Haida Indians, Alaska

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Deep Sea (design for Oval Platter)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

(Untitled) (design for Jonas Family tapestry)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Jacket design for The Perilous Isle

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Circus (design for tapestry, New York)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

(Untitled) (design for Jonas Family tapestry)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Geometrical Birdlike Design n.d. Drawing

National Anthropological Archives
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