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Jakab, Peter

Chief Curator, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

History of technology; history of aviation and aeronautical engineering; history of early flight; Wright brothers; World War I aviation.

Background And Education

Education And Training

Professional Biography

  • Peter L. Jakab, Ph.D.

    Chief Curator

    Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum



                Dr. Peter L. Jakab is Chief Curator of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  Formerly he served as the museum’s Associate Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs.  He has been with NASM since 1983.  He holds a BA, MA, and Ph.D. in American history from RutgersUniversity.  Areas of specialization include the history of technology, aerospace history, and American social and cultural history.  Prior museum work includes stays at the Edison National Historic Site, West Orange, N.J., and the New Jersey Historical Commission.  He also spent a year with the Thomas A. Edison Papers Project and two years teaching American history at RutgersUniversity during his graduate study.  During his stay at the NASM, he has curated numerous exhibitions and frequently lectured on the history of technology, the history of invention, the Wright brothers and pioneer aviation, and First World War aviation.  His most recent exhibition is Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War, at the National Air and Space Museum.  Major exhibitions also at the National Air and Space Museum include Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex on the Flight of Birds, featuring the original da Vinci Codex, and The Wright Brothers & the Invention of the Aerial Age.  His publications include the books Visions of a Flying Machine: The Wright Brothers and the Process of Invention (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990); Icare: revue de l'aviation française, #147, Les Frères Wright, 1994; The Published Writings of Wilbur and Orville Wright (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000), and The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age (National Geographic Society, 2003), the companion book to the exhibition.


Selected Publications