A playful sign for Kendall Square – sometimes called the most innovative square mile on the globe – was installed Feb. 1.

A playful sign for Cambridge’s Kendall Square – sometimes called the most innovative square mile on the globe – was installed Feb. 1.

The first use of anesthesia. The invention of the sewing machine. The first venture capital firm. The first same-sex marriage.

“Eastern Massachusetts is the site of more world-changing innovations than almost anywhere on earth,” said Gavin Kleespies, a Cambridge resident and former director of the Cambridge Historical Society. “Our metro area has been responsible for changes that have reshaped the world.”

The question is: Can the region retain its position as an innovation world leader?

In fact, in his new role as director of programs at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Kleespies has organized a colloquium Thursday at – where else – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to ask questions around that theme: “Why has Massachusetts been one of the leading hubs of innovation, on a global scale, for almost 400 years despite the collapse of major industries and significant regional economic downturns?” and “Can this region continue to be on the cutting edge? Is the intellectual capital here able to keep innovation thriving despite the increasingly high barriers to entry?”

The panel, called “Keeping Our Region Innovative: Drawing Lessons from Our Past,” was put together with MIT, the Russell Museum at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Cambridge Innovation Center and faculty from Suffolk University and includes: Scott Kirsner, tech columnist at The Boston Globe; Rosabeth Moss Kanter, of the Harvard Business School; Rob Go, of NextView Ventures; and Carmichael Roberts, of North Bridge Venture Partners. It will be moderated by Robert Krim, director of the Innovation Center at Framingham State University.

“Our region’s future as a global innovation hub can’t be taken for granted,” Kleespies said.

“Keeping Our Region Innovative: Drawing Lessons from Our Past” was scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Building 50, also known as the Walker Memorial, 142 Memorial Drive.

Update on May 19, 2016: The event has been marked as postponed by the Massachusetts Historical Society. The makeup date may be in September.

For information and to register, click here.