The continuing influence of toy inventor and alumnus A.C. Gilbert


Two videos shot at the Eli Whitney Museum explore the contributions of Yale alumnus A.C. Gilbert and today’s “maker” movement.

In “Erector Sets, model trains, and the new “maker” culture,” William Brown, director of the Eli Whitney Museum in New Haven, talks about the museum’s current exhibit on 1909 Yale graduate Alfred Carlton Gilbert and his famous Erector Sets, toy train sets, and how such activities have fostered creative invention in generations of children.

“The Erector Set at 100: What to Make of It” features a timeline of the Erector Set’s evolution, and how it connects with the major events of the 20th century. There are Erector Sets with familiar and unfamiliar pieces, as well as motors, pulleys and gears. Also on view are samples of the advertising showing Gilbert as one of the early practitioners of brand management.

The museum’s exhibition “The Erector Set at 100: What to Make of It?” also connects the project to the ‘maker’ movement, a collection of modern-day tinkerers, hackers, and inventors who take pleasure in finding new ways to make things work.


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