Blog: Patricia E. Mooradian

The Henry Ford in Dearborn is a campus of invention and cultural evolution. From living laboratories to the Rosa Parks bus, its 26+ million artifacts are the nation's most distinctive collection of American culture and innovation. Patricia E. Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford, explains how an American history museum stays relevant and fosters the next generation of thinkers.

Post 1: On Innovation

At The Henry Ford, we constantly ask ourselves, how can an American history museum stay relevant? How can we relate to future generations and most importantly, how can we inspire students of today to make their mark on this world?

While our collection of artifacts is dynamic and represents the nation's best archive of innovation, The Henry Ford presents more than just "cool stuff." We share the stories of innovation, ingenuity, and resourcefulness that represent some of the greatest innovators who ever lived—people like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, and the Wright brothers.

Our mission focuses on both the past and the future. We help people learn from history and encourage them to use those lessons to imagine and create a better future.  At The Henry Ford, we believe that "better future" can best be created by rediscovering and examining the innovative characteristics that define a "can-do" philosophy.

One fact perhaps many people don't know about The Henry Ford is that we continue to add to our collections today. Eighty years ago, our founder, Henry Ford, set out to build what he called, "a place for everybody who wants to know the greatness of our country and what has made it great." So he began collecting objects that reflected American progress. He traveled across the country to factories, farms, and workshops to obtain those remnants he felt best represented "the common genius" of the American people.

We have never strayed from Henry Ford's vision of building a place that celebrates those common-day heroes, the dreamers, the risk-takers—the people who have dared to change the world.

And because of our great foundation and the strength of our core assets, The Henry Ford is in a unique position to collect the present stories of innovation that will be relevant tomorrow.

For more than two years, we have been collecting the oral histories of some of the leading contemporary innovators today. We have been to their workshops, laboratories, offices, and homes for the sole purpose of documenting their creative processes, the ways they work, the ways they think, and how they translate their ideas into tangible and valued realities.

In February of this year, The Henry Ford launched, a website that features these oral histories and gives the user insight into these remarkable visionaries that are currently making a significant impact in many fields ranging from new technologies and alternative fuel sources to green architecture and industrial design.

To date, we have conducted more than 30 interviews with people such as Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Pierre Omidyar, Elon Musk, Stan Ovshinsky, Don Chadwick, and Lyn St. James.

Throughout the course of collecting these firsthand accounts, we were able to identify common themes and characteristics—patterns in the innovative process that transcend any given industry or person or historical period.  

Through this new website,, we can then share these insights and inspiring stories with the world while giving them connection and context.

I think it's important to know that is more than a website. We designed it to be a tool—a useful tool for lifelong learners.

We want people to use these stories and bring these innovators virtually into their classrooms, offices, and homes. We hope to stimulate creative and imaginative thinking.

The Henry Ford is committed to fueling the spirit of American innovation and igniting a "can-do" culture among a new generation of thinkers and doers, sparking progress and encouraging the development of talent and promotion of human potential.