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 2: The Myth of the Lone Genius

Over the past couple of years, several of our curators, our senior management team, and I had the distinct pleasure of traveling the country with the goal of documenting and capturing on film the oral histories of some of the greatest innovators and change agents living today.

We met Don Chadwick, co-designer of the Aeron Chair, in his studio in Los Angeles. Elon Musk greeted our cameras and crew in his Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Factory on 1 Rocket Road in Hawthorne, California. Dean Kamen, after landing his helicopter on his personal heli-pad, had us begin the interview in the front hallway of his home in Bedford, New Hampshire.

We have interviewed more than 30 innovators to date and 10 of these interviews are currently accessible on The Henry Ford’s newest website, We created this site to serve as a tool for lifelong learners with the goal of further fueling a culture of innovation.

What is so amazing about these oral histories and the dynamic and diverse group of people we interviewed is the commonality in what they say about innovation and how important it is at this time in our history.

One common belief among many of the innovators we interviewed was the notion of collaboration—that the myth of the lone genius is just that, a myth. Most innovations today—social and technical—are the product of intense collaboration.

Pierre Omidyar, the inventor of eBay, said it humbly and clearly: "The really cool companies out there today (are) the ones that are the most plugged into the people they're serving, take great ideas from the community, and implement them."

At The Henry Ford, we live by the saying: "Everything of significance we do, we do in partnership with others."

For any organization to thrive today, it must collaborate.  It can't go it alone. It must cultivate strategic relationships and develop mutually beneficial partnerships.