Benjamin Lawless | Museum showman, 88
Benjamin Lawless, 88, who brought a galvanizing showmanship to museum exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution and later at Elvis Presley's Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, died Aug. 2 of a heart ailment at his home in Fort Washington, Md., said a family friend, Harold Skramstad Jr., president emeritus of the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich.
Mr. Lawless helped conceive of the National Museum of History and Technology, which opened 1964 in Washington to display the Smithsonian's hodgepodge of social, cultural, scientific, and technological memorabilia. He served more than 15 years as exhibitions director at the museum, renamed in 1980 the National Museum of American History.
Skramstad called Mr. Lawless a "pacesetter" in a generation of exhibition designers who emerged in the 1960s and used video, audio, and even olfactory technology in novel ways to lure audiences and provide multidimensional context.
- Washington Post