Pequot Library screens All Things Bakelite: The Age of Plastic

History comes alive in All Things Bakelite: The Age of Plastic, a film by John Maher shown at Pequot Library on Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m. This unique one-hour documentary is a virtual periodic table of elements that combine to create a joyous and provocative story about the “father of modern plastics.” In 1907, Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a Belgian-born American chemist, made one of the most transformative discoveries of the 20th century: Bakelite. It was the first wholly synthetic plastic and it ushered in an explosion of new man-made materials that marked the beginnings of our modern industrial age. The film is free and open to the public, no registration is required, and light refreshments will be served.

The film blends beautifully realized period re-enactments of Baekeland’s life, rare archival footage, photos and journal entries, interviews with scientists, historians, and artists, and clever musical performances that capture both the wonder and the curse of Baekeland’s alchemy.

The primary source and inspiration for this illuminating film is one of the great-grandsons of Baekeland himself, Hugh Karraker, who is also the film’s executive producer. Following the film, join Karraker as he discusses his great-grandfather and answers questions from the audience. All Things Bakelite: The Age of Plastic is suitable for all audiences interested in the human drama that underlies history, science, business, and design — with the surprising twist that the nature of plastic reveals the nature of people.

This free program is offered as part of Fairfield County’s Giving Day, a 24-hour, online fundraiser sponsored by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. By making a minimum $10 donation online at on March 1, you will support engaging and educational programs, services, exhibitions, and Special Collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archives that Pequot Library offers year-round.

Pequot Library’s public programs are supported in part by the Town of Fairfield.

For more information, visit or call 203-259-0346, ext. 115. Follow Pequot Library on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leo Hendrik Baekeland, the "father of modern plastics."

Leo Hendrik Baekeland, the “father of modern plastics.”

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