Keith Newstead was comissioned by Exeter Museum to create an automaton to serve as a donations box. The patron donates some money into the machine and in return, it runs for a set period of time. It's a great system if you ask me.
The theme of this piece is 'The Museum Store Room'. The idea is that some of the museum's exhibits come to life when no one is watching. Here's one of Newstead's original sketches for the automaton:
As you can see, the final automaton stayed true to the original idea and brought the characters to life. He managed to incorporate a lot of different elements into one piece. I love the skeleton at the end!
See more sketches and in progress photos of the Exeter Museum donations box on Keith Newstead's blog. Some of the objects that inspired the piece are also shown. It's fun to see how he incorporated these elements.