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Cabaret Mechanical Theatre

Amazing Amusing Machines Combine Art and Science

Open now through November 29th, 2010

This temporary exhibit features a collection of over 40 mechanical sculptures, called automata, which are intricately designed and full of humor. Their humor is brought to life by tiny cranks, pulleys and gears that allow the sculptures to move and take action. 20 can be operated by museum visitors who will find it hard to resist bringing the creations to life at the touch of a button. Upon first glance, the automata are curious objects with a playful demeanor, but when the gears and pulleys move into action, the simple yet remarkable mechanics are revealed.


Teachers Guide

Web Resources

  • Maillardet’s Automaton, the Science of Motion, and Simple Machines
    Learn the fascinating true story behind an eighteenth century automaton that wrote out the name of its forgotten creator. This site, by the Franklin Institute, includes links with explanations and activities on the science of motion and simple machines. Download the pdf files in the Off-line Activities to create your very own working automata.
  • Simple Machines by COSI
    The Center of Science and Industry presents a very tech saavy introduction to the simple machines that make automatons work. Learn the mechanical advantage of simple machines like the wedge, the screw, and the inclined plane, then play Find the Machine and Putting Simple Machines to Work.
  • ZOOM Activities from the popular PBS show
    Great activities from the show by kids, for kids! Click on Zoombuild to design and build cool contraptions.
  • Design Squad
    The Design Squad invites you to Watch, Play and Create. Click on Make Cool Projects to build toys, games, art and other fun stuff!
  • GearWorx
    An artist inspired by a visit to the Cabaret Mechanical Theater 30  years ago presents a very complete website on the history and mechanics of automatons. This site provides a very comprehensive list of sites on automata and kinetic art.  
  • Ideas from the Exploratorium
    Make your own Cardboard Automata, sound automata, scribbling machine, and more…
  • Philip Lowndes Automata
    Check out these finely crafted automata. Click on a photo to see details and a video of the automaton’s inner workings in action.
  • Simple Machines Game
    Learning about simple machines has never been such fun! Help Twitch collect the parts he needs by using an inclined plane, a lever, a wheel and axle, and a pulley. Each task ends with a clear explanation of how each simple machine makes work easier. Brought to you by Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.
  • Cabaret Mechanical Theater
    CMT puts together exhibitions of contemporary automata by a collective of artists based in the United Kingdom. Their website features the works of 15 artists, a blog, and links to the wider world of automata.
  • Cabaret Mechanical Theater's YouTube Channel
  • DaVinci’s Workshop
    Learn about simple machines and their application by the Master himself. This website from the Museum of Science, Boston includes games and quizes, and activities.

All automatons copyright 2001 Cabaret Mechanical Theater
Our thanks to Mr. Andrew Hirschl who very kindly loaned a portion of the automata in the exhibition.

Copyright © 2016 Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science