Today I had the great pleasure of returning to the Morris Museum (Morristown, NJ, about an hour’s drive from NYC) where the generous Murtogh D. Guinness (yes, of stout beer fame) deposited his great collection of automata—mechanical animals, human figures, and an amazing array of music players. No photos are allowed, but this link here takes you to some of the highlights of the collection.
They have a “walking” elephant, crocodile, peacock…. and various “monkey” aristocrats in decadent human clothing doing silly human things.
My favorite is the piece where a 2’ long figure of a repined Cleopatra dies by poison snake—over and over, bosom heaving. It really makes you think: who wants to see that over and over again? Cleopatra’s not-so-petite morte, over and over? (The automatons are not rigged to “go,” but they are still functional and have been DVD’d in action.)
If you’re in the area, it’s absolutely worth going!