Skip to main content

ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival Returns to the National Museum of American History 

Collaboration of disciplines across the Atlantic Coast Conference stimulates creativity and innovation at Smithsonian Festival

Acclerate Creativity and Innovation Festival Logo

For the first time in over two years, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is welcoming visitors back inside to attend a major public festival. The museum’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, in collaboration with Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology (ICAT), will present the 2022 ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival. This year’s ACCelerate Festival opens April 8 and runs through April 10. The three-day event is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET each day. 

The ACCelerate Festival is a celebration of creative exploration and innovative research happening at the intersection of science, engineering, arts and design from across the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the Smithsonian. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage with a multitude of innovators leading the way in creative exploration. There will be 25 interactive installations presented by students and faculty of universities and colleges in the ACC. The museum’s Draper Spark!Lab will also temporarily reopen for in-person invention activities during the festival. 

Part exhibit, part festival, the ACCelerate projects will span two floors of the museum and bridge the gaps between the natural world and emerging trends in technology. Visitors can meet and sing along with lifelike penguin robots, learn how researchers are thinking about how to perform surgery in space where bleeding can create hazardous situations in a microgravity environment and take a virtual reality journey to natural environments most affected by climate change. A full list of ACCelerate Festival exhibits is available. 

“We are thrilled to resume the ACCelerate Festival again for the first time since 2019 and safely welcome back ACC exhibitor teams to share with museum visitors how creativity has continued to thrive despite the constraints of recent years,” said Jeffrey Brodie, deputy director at the Lemelson Center. “The opportunity to connect active innovators with the public is invaluable, and we hope attendees will be inspired to think about invention in new, surprising ways.” 

“ACCelerate has become a keystone event for bringing together student and faculty researchers from across the ACC,” said Ben Knapp, founding director of ICAT at Virginia Tech. “Each exhibit showcased at the festival represents the nexus of arts and sciences, and the uniqueness of the creative process. ACCelerate also offers unique networking opportunities for students and faculty and an extraordinary venue through which to engage and educate the public on the power of transdisciplinary innovation.” 

The ACCelerate Festival will take place in the National Museum of American History, which is located on Constitution Avenue N.W. between 12th and 14th streets. Public hours are Friday through Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. For museum information, visit

About the Lemelson Center 

The Lemelson Center engages, educates and empowers the public to participate in technological, economic and social change. The center undertakes historical research, develops educational initiatives, creates exhibitions and hosts public programming to advance new perspectives on invention and innovation and to foster interactions between the public and inventors. The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation, featuring the Draper Spark!Lab, “Places of Invention” and “Inventive Minds,” is a signature part of the National Museum of American History’s 45,000-square-foot space centered on the theme of innovation. For more information, visit the center’s website. Follow the center on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

About ICAT at Virginia Tech 

Powered by advanced technology and networks of creative people, the Institute for Creativity, Art, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech brings together and supports teams of faculty and students from across academic disciplines to address grand challenges and creative opportunities, ranging from large societal problems to industry-specific issues to the frontiers of artistic expression.