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October 10, 2022 - ONGOING


Set within the Revolutionary Tools Exhibit, this special installation is a re-creation of Dr. Arnold O. Beckman's office where he worked to make impactful decisions about his business, philanthropy, civic life, personal life, politics, and more. The 350-square-foot space features original furnishings, objects, and artwork as well as reproduction documents and images from the Foundation collection, where they were placed into care by Dr. Beckman and his wife, Mabel. Pieces of note from the collection include a black-and-white photographic series of National Technical Laboratories and Beckman Instruments from the 1930s-1960s, Jean Guay's oil-on-canvas painting, A Venerable Survivor, a 30" diameter globe commemorating Dr. Beckman's service as President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and one of three vintage Rolodex card files used by Dr. Beckman to house nearly 1,000 contacts.

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Exhibit Objects

Guest Book & 7 Rules for Success Poster

As you enter the exhibit and make your way to Dr. Beckman's console cabinet, be sure to sign our guest book and then keep the blue Beckman pencil afterward. Share your name, where you're from, and your connection to Dr. Beckman - or let us know your thoughts about the exhibit. Positive and constructive feedback welcome.

Upon leaving the exhibit, check out our 7 Rules for Success printed poster full of Dr. Beckman's favorite tips for a successful life. Please, take one. Hang it in your home, at school, or office for daily inspiration and motivation. We're guessing something is going to seem very familiar to you about the poster. Yep, that's an archival photo of Dr. Beckman sitting in his actual office, now on a poster sitting in front of a re-creation of the same office. "It's like deja vu, all over again."

Selfie Stop

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Follow us online:

Hashtags associated with this special installation (not case sensitive):

  • #AOBatWORK
  • #MEandAOB

Docent-led Tours

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For additional information on docent-led tours, click here.

Reader Rail

The Arnold O. Beckman at Work exhibit features three 42" tall reader rails with 48"w x 9"h display frames. Narrative content (shown below) is provided on printed color inserts, presented with images and a timeline:

Meeting the Critical Infrastructure Needs of Researchers

Dr. Arnold O. Beckman was a humble inventor whose ingenious instruments revolutionized science, and earned he and his wife Mabel a fortune during their lifetimes. The Beckmans believed in giving back, and since 1977 their philanthropy has touched countless lives by supporting cutting-edge research in chemistry and the life sciences. Early on, they were aware that scientific discovery and the opportunity for innovation and collaboration might outpace the evolution of the nation’s research facilities, so they thoughtfully earmarked funds from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to major research infrastructure.

This investment led to the establishment of five institutes:

  • Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois (1983)
  • Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope and Medical Center (1983)
  • Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic at the University of California at Irvine (1986)
  • Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology (1989)
  • Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine at Stanford University (1989)

The Foundation’s commitment to providing high-caliber facilities connects educators, researchers and students with environments conducive to sharing data and resources. It also enables access to the state-of-the-art equipment accelerating the breakthrough discoveries of advanced science, like the cryogenic electron microscopes the Foundation began installing at five leading research facilities in 2017.

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Supporting the Early Careers of Rising Scientists

Dr. Beckman created a billion-dollar, high-tech corporation that employed thousands and transformed science. His lasting legacy is the inspiration that he left with all who knew him and who continue to benefit from invention and generosity, including the award recipients of several programs at the Foundation aimed at fostering the early careers of young scientists engaged in excellent research:

  • Beckman Young Investigators (1991)
  • Beckman Scholars Program (1998)
  • Beckman@Science (1998)
  • Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship (2015)
  • Orange County Beckman Legacy Award (2020)
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The Foundation’s dedication to supporting young scientists today for tomorrow’s breakthrough discoveries extends beyond financial awards; program recipients are invited to the Beckman Symposium, an event where they can present their newest research findings as poster or oral presentations. Attendees are given opportunities to network, learn about a broad range of research topics from their peers, and discuss career tips with invited experts from academia and industry.

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Supporting Young Scientists Today for Tomorrow's Breakthrough Discoveries

Awardee Spotlight:
1996 Beckman Young Investigator, Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD

From the official press release:

Genetic scissors: a tool for rewriting the code of life

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna have discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.


Researchers need to modify genes in cells if they are to find out about life’s inner workings. This used to be time-consuming, difficult and sometimes impossible work. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, it is now possible to change the code of life over the course of a few weeks.

“There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all. It has not only revolutionised basic science, but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to ground-breaking new medical treatments,” says Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

As so often in science, the discovery of these genetic scissors was unexpected. During Emmanuelle Charpentier’s studies of Streptococcus pyogenes, one of the bacteria that cause the most harm to humanity, she discovered a previously unknown molecule, tracrRNA. Her work showed that tracrRNA is part of bacteria’s ancient immune system, CRISPR/Cas, that disarms viruses by cleaving their DNA.

Charpentier published her discovery in 2011. The same year, she initiated a collaboration with Jennifer Doudna, an experienced biochemist with vast knowledge of RNA. Together, they succeeded in recreating the bacteria’s genetic scissors in a test tube and simplifying the scissors’ molecular components so they were easier to use.

In an epoch-making experiment, they then reprogrammed the genetic scissors. In their natural form, the scissors recognise DNA from viruses, but Charpentier and Doudna proved that they could be controlled so that they can cut any DNA molecule at a predetermined site. Where the DNA is cut it is then easy to rewrite the code of life. Since Charpentier and Doudna discovered the CRISPR/ Cas9 genetic scissors in 2012 their use has exploded. This tool has contributed to many important discoveries in basic research, and plant researchers have been able to develop crops that withstand mould, pests and drought. In medicine, clinical trials of new cancer therapies are underway, and the dream of being able to cure inherited diseases is about to come true. These genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.

Additional Resources

The Foundation has created a suite of learning resources based on Dr. Beckman's life and career, many developed with young people in mind.

  • For the entire suite of learning resources, click here.
  • For Listen & Learn audio tours of the Revolutionary Tools exhibit and printable activity worksheets, click here.
  • For Let's Learn Science pH meter lesson plans for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, click here, here, and here.
  • For Let's Learn Science oxygen analyzer lesson plans for sixth and seventh/eighth graders, click here and here.
  • For Let's Learn Science spectrophotometer lesson plans for sixth and seventh/eighth graders, click here and here.
  • For Let's Study and Learn Science quizzes, click here.
  • For Let's Color and Learn Science printable activity pages, click here.

Curatorial Notes & Time-Lapse Install Videos

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Archive has thousands of images, objects, and documents from Dr. and Mrs. Beckmans' lives and the Foundation's programs, events, and activities. Archival items such as these are sensitive to UV light, humidity, pests, and natural oils found on our own skin. Because of this, and the number of items available, a carefully curated selection is included in the Arnold O. Beckman at Work special installation. Especially sensitive items such as images and documents have been reproduced so that they can remain on display for an extended period of time, while other more resilient items such as the desk, console cabinet, Rolodex, oil painting, and globe, represent original pieces from the collection that are unique to the time period and subject and will withstand guided visits in a climate- and light-controlled space.

To highlight the range of work that Dr. Beckman conducted within his office, the two shelves above the console cabinet display academic credentials, professional memberships, awards, and other accolades, as well as interactions with local politicians and service organizations. On his desk, black-and-white photographs of his family sit framed along with a vintage Rolodex card file, one of three such objects Dr. Beckman used to house nearly 1,000 contacts. The top right desk drawer reveals a small collection of personal objects. Behind the desk is a commemorative globe set upon a wood pedestal with engraved plaque, a gift from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to Dr. Beckman for his time as the organization's President. Above the globe hangs the signed oil-on-canvas painting, A Venerable Survivor, by French-Canadian artist Jean Guay who moved from Montreal to Southern California in 1959. Dr. Beckman collected the artist's work and chose to feature this piece in his own office. Across the office is a reader rail that highlights the programs and accomplishments of the Beckmans' namesake Foundation and draws special attention to 1996 Beckman Young Investigator, Jennifer Doudna, PhD, Nobel Prize Laureate for Chemistry (2020). And over the reader rail, a series of black-and-white photographic prints that takes visitors on a walk past National Technical Laboratories and Beckman Instruments from the 1930s to 1960s.

The least formal addition to the special installation, but one sure to make visitors smile, is a near life-size display of Dr. Beckman positioned to sit on the corner of his desk just as he appeared in archival photographs such as the one used as background for the 7 Rules for Success poster. At 6-foot-tall, the display comes within a few inches of capturing Dr. Beckman's full height and gives visitors a chance to see Arnold O. Beckman at Work. Together, the original and reproduction artifacts as well as the narrative content and life-size display, tell the story of a man whose time, talent, and wealth were dedicated to creating a brighter future, "supporting young scientists today for tomorrow's breakthrough discoveries." The uncomplicated, straightforward workspace he created for himself reflected his values as a scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, husband, and father - and his hard work, philosophy ("There's no satisfactory substitute for excellence."), and generosity created a meaningful, enduring legacy.


Learn more about how this space came together:

JUST FOR FUN: We created time-lapse videos of our exhibit installation. Part one of the install covers a 5-hour period filled with stanchion assembly, cleaning, furniture restoration and space planning, unpackaging supplies, shelf installation, measuring and hanging of artwork and a photo series, object placements, and sign assembly. Part two of the install covers a 3.5-hour period filled with more sign and stanchion topper assembly, poster giveaways, installation of security cameras, special project construction that enabled a life-sized Dr. Beckman to sit on the corner of his desk, document reproduction and object placement, application of museum wax, vacuuming, packaging removal and general clean-up, and more. (Please note that all plants shown in the exhibit are artificial to protect archival items from humidity and pests.) Ready, set, go!


Special thanks to Christine Mickey and Erik Christman for generously sharing their expert guidance and advice.

Keywords: Beckman, exhibit, museum, archive, learning resources, elearning, online, education, science, history, STEM, STEAM