Thursday, May 24, 2012

Among the automata at the Morris Museum in New Jersey

Among the automata at the Morris Museum in New Jersey

The Paris Review recently featured a great article on the the Morris Museum and its fascinating collection of automata and mechanical music machines.

From the article Among the Automata:

The collection's permanent exhibit, more whimsical than steampunk in aesthetic, attracts huge numbers of schoolchildren during the week. Even empty, though, it felt busy, alive with click and chime and jingle. The sound is artificial: the objects are designed to move, but in a museum setting and for conservation purposes, they mainly can't. Behind their glass cases, the automata look more or less like dolls, albeit gorgeous in a kind of Baudelairean "old acrobat" way. But the museum provides videos in which the visitor can watch them move: the blinking calfskin eyelids, lips pulling back over a mouth of sharpened teeth, jointed fingertips tapping as they meander over a flute. There are animals, too: suede pigs with bellows inside them so they squeal while walking around on their little wheeled feet, a wind-up peacock that spreads its real feathered tail, a mournful-looking tiger that jerks suddenly upright.

Here is where you can read the full article Among the Automata by Jenny Hendrix.

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