Karen Stuart, Mayor of the City of Broomfield, CO: I’ve become intrigued with the idea for a Museum of Future Inventions, the brainchild of Thomas Frey, the Executive Director of the DaVinci Institute, a non-profit futurist think tank located here in Colorado. The concept for this museum is one of grand proportions, composed of multiple pavilions, each with its own scientific concentration (robotics, energy, space, commerce, transportation, and communications, to name only a few).

The museum plans to provide educational workshops for K-12, university courses, entrepreneur workshops, brainstorming sessions and corporate training as well as exhibits. The museum experience will be geared to all ages of interest, young to old, designed to give demonstrations and interaction with experts and notable inventors. A young inventors’ laboratory featuring inventions by kids and for kids will be a signature piece of this innovative museum of the future.

Late last year, as a kick off fund raiser for this museum project, the DaVinci Institute held an event called “A Night with the Visionaries” with a celebrity auction as part of the program. I often get invited to attend many of these types of functions, but it’s rare that I get asked to be one of the celebrities. I was this time and it was with a little humble reluctance that I accepted. Along with Mayor John Hickenlooper, Jared Polis, State Treasurer Mike Coffman, former Governor Dick Lamm, Channel 4, 7, and 9 Anchormen (and women) my name appeared on the bidding list for an opportunity for some lucky bidder to have one of us as their dinner companion for a few short but entertaining hours at some trendy restaurant. I say reluctance because while I don’t mind giving my personal time for charity, I remain skeptical that anyone would consider me a celebrity, let alone pay good money to have dinner with me … John Hickenlooper, sure. He gets these requests so often that he agrees to a few venues and has dinner with a crowd of people at a time! But I had my doubts; humiliation seemed on the horizon. I went along with the auction though, prepared to bid on myself if necessary. Thank you, thank you, David and Nancy for your bid. I look forward to our dinner at the Cheesecake Factory; I’ll make every attempt to be an engaging and entertaining companion.

The “Night with the Visionaries” proved to be enlightening and intriguing. We were teased with ideas for inventions from the possible to the improbable. I’m fascinated with some of the ideas that are out there. I have a soft place in my heart for inventors, those people of vision whose minds work on overdrive with ideas. (My dad was that sort of guy. He once invented some sort of thing-a-ma-gig to increase the throughput of gas turbine engines when he was in the army. Since he was working for the military the army owned the patent on the invention so my dad never made any money on it, but he was awarded a very nice medal instead.)

Of all the ideas for inventions we were told of that evening, the most fascinating one to me is the idea of a flash dark. It is the opposite of a flash light! It would provide at the touch of a button a beam of darkness. Think of the uses. On an extremely hot bright day when visibility was impaired by the light, a shot of darkness could be a benefit to one’s sight. In a desert, during a full moon, as sun reflects on water, when you have a migraine and no ability to turn off the lights, maybe a flash dark could be a useful tool.

While the plans for this museum are still in early stages, I’ve been told the project has attracted a significant following. Their website says that many of the world’s best artists, designers and model makers are beginning to craft individual exhibits. Plans are underway for the site selection, architectural plans and fund raising. If you are interested in learning more about the DaVinci Institute visit www.davinciinstitute.com.

Since my (limited) involvement with this intriguing endeavor, I’ve given a little thought to what sort of things I liked to see invented. I think something along the lines of the opposite of rose-colored glasses would be a great invention. I don’t mean spectacles that would have you see the worst in any situation but only the realistic of any given situation. For example, when a development application came in front of City Council with all kinds of promises of open space, retail revenues, cooperation with existing neighbors and amenities that would enhance our community, we could don our reality glasses, take a look at the plan and know the truth immediately. Think of this in the context of evaluating new relationships, electing public servants, buying used cars, investing in the stock market, etc. Think how beneficial that kind of invention could be to us all!

Karen Stuart,
City of Broomfield