Gather the kids (young and old) for the ultimate in STEAM immersion: science, technology, engineering, art and math all come together in an unprecedented gathering of historic treasures in New York.
Of note, there is a glittering green delight. Highlighting that the world's largest natural green diamond is on view in the city, the Empire State Building sparkled in green lights on Monday night to celebrate the exhibition Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Opening to the public on November 25, this landmark exhibition includes some 170 Renaissance and early Baroque treasures—many of them rarely seen by the public—brought together from important princely collections throughout Europe. Included are dazzling jewels and gem-encrusted clocks, automata, silver furniture, musical instruments, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and print media.
Another highlight is “The Draughtsman Writer,” a late 18th-century writing automaton that inspired the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret and its movie adaptation. The advanced mechanism of this piece, which stored more information than any machines that came before it, was the forerunner of the computer.
Between 1550 and 1750, nearly every royal family in Europe assembled vast collections of exquisite and entertaining objects. Lavish public spending and the display of precious metals were important expressions of power, and possessing artistic and technological innovations conveyed status. In fact, advancements in art, science, and technology were often prominently showcased in elaborate court entertainments that were characteristic of the period.
Making Marvels is the first exhibition in North America to highlight the important conjunction of art, science, and technology with entertainment and display that was essential to court culture. The exhibition will be divided into four sections dedicated to the main object types featured in these displays: precious metalwork, Kunstkammer objects, princely tools, and self-moving clockworks or automata.
Knowledge of subjects such as natural philosophy, artisanal craftsmanship, and technology was considered tantamount to the practical wisdom, self-mastery, and moral virtue integral to successful governance. Pursuits such as metalsmithing, surveying, horology, astronomy, and turning at the lathe were part of the education and entertainment of princes in courts across Europe.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue, published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press ($65, hardbound), as well as a picture album ($14.95). Both will be available in The Met Store.