With Henry Ford Museum now called Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, it brings thoughts of artifacts that stand out as the most innovative. While the name of the overall destination remains The Henry Ford, the organization is extending Henry Ford Museum’s name to better convey the core idea of innovation that threads throughout its key collection.
Some of the curators at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation chose an artifact that stood out to them as the most innovative.
When asked to choose an artifact from the museum that symbolized innovation, a lot of the curators had trouble picking just one.
Debra Reid - Curator of Agriculture and the Environment The manure spreader displayed in the agriculture exhibit inside Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation looks more like a work of art than a piece of farm equipment. Laborers painted the wooden box yellow and red, added pinstripes, and stenciled the manufacturer’s name and model number prominently on its exterior. This made the spreader a moving advertisement during the Golden Age of agriculture, roughly 1900 to 1920.
During this time some farmers profited from high market prices paid for the commodities that they grew. The spreader symbolized their investment in new ways of doing business. They purchased more land, built new farm buildings including corn cribs and dairy barns, and bought pure-bred livestock and new agricultural equipment to help them do their jobs. The spreader reduced the labor required to move increasing amounts of manure from barns and stables and apply it to their arable land. The machine distributed the organic manure and its three essential elements (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) more evenly than pitching manure from a cart onto the fields. Not all farmers practiced such intensive animal husbandry, and thus, they had little use for such innovations, but the spreader answered the prayers of other farm families with livestock housed in barns and stables and fields in need of nutrients.