Skateboarding and the Smithsonian? It’s a unique and successful concept grounded in the belief that invention and innovation happen every day in places often overlooked.
Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E15 2GW, UK
The Innoskate education and outreach program is a unique and successful collaboration between the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, leaders of the skateboard community, and museum and university partners committed to inspiring diverse audiences to unleash their inherent creativity and inventive thinking. At the core of this dynamic education program are large, public Innoskate festivals that celebrate skateboarding’s history and culture to spark the imaginations of young people. Key elements include presentations and discussions with legendary skaters, inventors, scientists, engineers, and artists on topics ranging from neuroscience to street art; family-friendly hands-on invention and STEAM activities; art education projects; learn-to-skate clinics and skate demonstrations; acquisition of skate artifacts for museum collections; and of course, a live best-trick contest.
The inaugural Innoskate festival took place in 2013 on the 10th anniversary of global Go Skateboarding Day. With a skate ramp installed on the National Museum of American History’s plaza featuring the National Mall and the Washington Monument as a dramatic backdrop, participants Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Patti McGee, Cindy Whitehead, Paul Schmitt, and others engaged the public with insights about skate history, invention, and innovation. The success of the initial Innoskate event inspired new collaborations and new festivals at the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida, the Muse um of History and Industry in Seattle, Washington, the X Games in Austin, Texas with ESPN, at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, South Carolina, and most recently at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
For 2019, the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center is creating its 7th Innoskate festival to be held at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, England on May 24-25 to complement the professional Street League Skateboarding Olympic Qualifying event at the Copperbox Arena. Aligning the Innoskate program with the SLS event provides a powerful opportunity to enhance the connection between SLS and the skateboarding community with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park area – an emerging dynamic center of cultural and educational activity. Innoskate showcases the value of integrating an Olympic-level skateboarding competition with a cultural festival: it engages both skaters and non-skaters, of any age, in skateboarding’s innovative culture that make it so much more than just a sport.
This special Innoskate program features the collective energy and expertise of its multiple collaborators including Autodesk, University College of London’s Bartlett School of Architecture and Here East, the London Legacy Development Corporation, Chelsea Football Club, and leaders of th e skate community from the United States and England. The Innoskate team is excited to inspire young audiences, with a particular emphasis on engaging the youth of east London, to be active contributors to their society driven by technological change and to appreciate that invention and innovation happen every day, often in unexpected places.