This humble-looking Standard Vacuum Sweeper is the reason this Museum exists. In the early 1970s, accountant Frank Livermore spotted this sweeper in the corner of a local junk shop and, intrigued by its mechanical workings, Frank bought it on the spot. From that day on, he became a collector, and soon his Menlo Park home was bulging at the seams with his eclectic collection of antique mechanical and electrical devices.
Frank's friends joked that he should start a Museum of his own and, when one gave him a sign saying, Smithsonian West, Frank began to take the idea seriously. Frank and attorney Perry Moerdyke began the process of forming a registered non-profit Museum. In 1985 the Museum of American Heritage was incorporated. Frank's collection formed the nucleus of the Museum. In 1990 the Museum of American Heritage opened at its first location on Alma Street in Palo Alto and in 1997 MOAH was awarded tenancy of the City of Palo Alto's historic Williams House.
The Frank Livermore Trust was established to provide ongoing financial support for the care and maintenance of the collection.
Frank passed away in 2000, yet his curiosity and reverence for the spirit of innovation lives on in this Museum.
Today the collection boasts over 5,000 mechanical and electrical artifacts largely dating from the 1850s to the 1950s, which are housed in an offsite warehouse. Our artifacts are displayed in rotating exhibits at the Museum and are often loaned to other Museums and institutions for exhibit purposes.
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