Explore the mind of R. Buckminster Fuller at the Lincoln Presidential Library


The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum celebrates the unbridled imagination of R. Buckminster Fuller this month with a display of his Dymaxion concept car, a chance for children to be inventors and a biographer’s take on Fuller’s career.

Fuller, who spent part of his career at Southern Illinois University and designed a house there, is included in the ALPLM’s special exhibit “Here I Have Lived: Home in Illinois.” He is best known for popularizing the geodesic dome design and coining the term “spaceship earth.”

Part designer and part philosopher, Fuller sought inexpensive technological solutions to problems of housing, transportation and resources. He promoted his ideas with catchy labels for everything. His daily journal, for instance, became the “Dymaxion Chronofile.”

Kids will get a chance to follow in his inventive footsteps Saturday at a Fuller-inspired “inventorspace.” Our education team will help children think outside the box about inventing something to solve a problem. It will be an informal, open space for inventive thinking, and participants may stay for as long as they like during the program times.

Inventorspace runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is included with admission to the museum. Registration is not required; however, the program is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Sept. 21, the ALPLM will welcome Alec Nevala-Lee, author of “Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller.”

Nevala-Lee is a novelist and biographer. He was a Hugo Award finalist for “Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction.” His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Salon and the Daily Beast.

Drawing on meticulous research and extensive interviews, Nevala-Lee will examine Fuller’s body of work as a designer and futurist who captured the attention of both mainstream and counterculture audiences in the 1960s. His revolutionary ideas, which were based on a mystical conception of the universe’s geometry, influenced the founders of Silicon Valley and continue to flourish far and wide, from Epcot Center to a molecule named in his honor.

The presentation is free and will take place Thursday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. To reserve space, click here.

Nevala-Lee will speak in the ALPLM museum plaza, with a replica of Fuller’s Dymaxion car in the background. The three-wheeled vehicle was designed in the 1930s, and Fuller only made three of them.

This vehicle is on loan from Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum, with generous support from Isringhausen Imports. It will be displayed at the ALPLM until the “Here I Have Lived” exhibit closes in January.

The mission of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is to inspire civic engagement through the diverse lens of Illinois history and sharing with the world the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. We pursue this mission through a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship built on the bedrock of the ALPLM’s unparalleled collection of historical materials – roughly 13 million items from all eras of Illinois history.

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