Get local news delivered straight to your phone
Support City Paper!
Gatorade. Prosthetic legs. Nikes. Items like these represent the use of science to mimic, replace, or improve nature, and they’re on display in “Inventing Ourselves.” In the “improving” category falls the Smart Shirt. Invented for military use, the shirt can electronically transmit data from a wounded soldier to a field hospital. And if we weren’t in the middle of a seemingly endless war, the shirt would also be useful for police, medical patients, and athletes. But before Serena Williams gets anywhere near this thing, designers had better boost the style factor: It’s a horrible knit vest with wires and sensors poking out. The curators included some performance-boosting artifacts, such as PowerBar Gel, but they only hint at the hard stuff with a couple of generic sentences about steroids being “widely used” and “cause for concern and regulation.” More satisfying is the display on prosthetics, which shows the evolution from an 1872 peg leg to the C-shaped “cheetah leg” used by Paralympic sprinters. The exhibition is on view from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (see City List for other dates) at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 633-1000. (Rachel Beckman)