Large. But not large large.
Large. But not large large.
A mere 35,000 LEGO blocks.
A mere 35,000 LEGO blocks.
Tribute to the inventor of the modern typewriter and the famous writers who have typed on them.
Tribute to the inventor of the modern typewriter and the famous writers who have typed on them.

MSOE library houses large light bulb, LEGO stadium

Sure, kids love trips to Disney World and water parks, but the beauty of the little people is they often are just as impressed with the smaller stuff. I am reminded of this again and again, most recently, when we stopped off at the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Walter Schroeder Library, 500 E. Kilbourn Ave.

We stopped in to check out the world’s largest light bulb – well, at least it was in 1973 – because I have an unexplainable penchant for ridiculously over-sized items. (No, that’s not what she said. Ahem.)

According to Sarah Rowell, who works at the library, the lamp MSOE has was built by the General Electric Company in 1939 for exhibition at the World's Fair. It has a 50-kilowatt bulb, but its output is equivalent to 100,000 watts.

"Though now it is just on display, when lit the bulb could set a newspaper on fire from six feet away," says Rowell. "For cooling purposes the bulb needed to be shut off every 10 seconds. As you can imagine, it is an object of some curiosity and regularly viewed by those finding their way to our library."

This information is actually more interesting than the bulb itself, which is under three-feet tall. I guess I expected it to be giant, at least six feet, and so seeing it was a bit anticlimactic. My kids thought it was pretty cool, except they kept asking if we could turn it on.

Even more impressive to them, however, is the massive LEGO sculpture of Miller Park made by former MSOE student Tim Kaebisch. It features approximately 35,000 LEGO blocks (that’s $7,500 worth!), including a retractable roof, and it took him six years to build.

The model, which was not anticlimactic in the least, will be at the Shroeder Library through Feb. 13, 2013.

We also enjoyed the display that pays tribute to Christopher Latham Sholes, a Milwaukeean who invented the modern typewriter / QWERTY keyboard.  The display features vintage typewriters, along with black-and-white photos of famous writers from Dorothy Parker to William Faulkner composing on them.

The second floor of MSOE’s Schroeder library isn’t an all-day event, but if you find yourself in the neighborhood, duck in for some interesting Milwaukee quirk and history.


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