"Machine with Wishbone" is a moving sculpture by Arthur Ganson

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/03/24/machine-with-wishbone-is-a-moving-sculpture-by-arthur-ganson.html


This is on permanent display at the MIT Museum in Cambridge MA (which is not at MIT, mind), along with many other Ganson marvels. My favorite may be “Child Watching Ball” but it’s hard to choose. Don’t miss them if you’re in Boston.

It takes ~1/2hr to figure out how Ganson achieves such complicated motion of the doll head, in sync with the equally complicated track of the ball. It helps that you get to operate the machine yourself.


It was very moving.

I remain on tenterhooks to see which half of the machine gets the wish.

I was kind of hoping for a different Wishbone.

Knight Note GIF

Wheels within wheels…

Yeah, I’ve admired his work for years, and there are a lot of great pieces. I especially like the interactive ones like “Faster!” that are powered by the viewers:

My senior project in college was a cam-operated drawing robot that worked on a similar principle to that one.


Yes, when they were installed I loved going to see the exhibit. Wishbone was actually my favorite, but Child Watching a Ball, and the one with the gears with the last gear embedded in concrete were up there.

Alas, as far as I’m aware they’re not on display anymore. MIT decided it needed a real museum worthy of it’s stature, so shut down the little one and built a big fancy museum that showcases its work in a more rich-alumni-donor-appropriate way.

They may have found a new home for the Ganson machines, but they’re not at the museum now.

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This news was way too horrible and I refused to believe it.

I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that I am a happier person believing so, and the website (at present) helps me do so.


His work is inspiring - was fortunate to catch a lecture of his at CCA, a while back (or was it CCAC then?). The story of a momentum transfer mechanism on the Cory’s Yellow Chair piece was particularly mind-blowing.

The gears piece (Machine With Concrete) was at the SF Exploratorium (at least as of last summer) :

(…it’s appropriately situated right beside the public facing museum machine shop)

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From Andy’s instagram page:

I think this was during installation.

Oh good. I visited the new museum when they first opened, and the person I asked said that as far as they knew, there were no plans to install the Ganson pieces.

Looks like this has been part of the collection for over a year now, so I am cheerfully wrong. And now I need to visit it again!

On my bucket list of places to go before I die.


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