Explore the amazing world of machines! You’ll be amazed at the similarities between the rarely-displayed machines from our priceless collection and the machines you use every day! While some machines serve practical purposes, others are entirely whimsical. A highlight of this exhibit is the Maillardet Automaton—a truly amazing machine that inspired the award-winning children’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret and film Hugo.

Examine the fascinating inner workings of common household items like a vacuum cleaner or drill. “Exploded” views of these everyday machines provide interior views that vividly demonstrate how simple components can power complex mechanisms. Test your engineering skills and use gears, linkages, cams, and pulleys to create your own new machine. Discover how each component effects the design and function of the entire device. Try your hand as a crane operator and move blocks from one target to another. Here’s a hint: You’ll have to master power and control to move the crane and complete the job!

Things to Do and See in Amazing Machine

  • See a Pre-Electronic Mechanical Robot: the Automaton

    We usually think of robots as an achievement of the modern era. This one, built around 1800, will surprise you with its imaginative technology.

  • Try Your Hand at Operating a Crane

    Use the crane to move blocks from one target to another. It takes power and control to get the job done right.  

  • Find Out What Makes an Antique Sewing Machine "Sew" Special

    Belts and pulleys connect the motor to cranks that drive the needle up and down. But what pushes the fabric forward?

  • See Inside an Intricate Six-Foot Model of the Strasbourg Cathedral Clock

    Each gear connects to a complex system of additional gears and rods.  

  • See How Cams are Used to Make Music

    Discover how moving the cam placement can change the tune of your song.

Interactive Map



Floor 2