This year, Museum Speelklok displayed the Selfie Automaton exhibition. The famous Marble Machine also came to the museum and we played dirty songs on stately musical clocks.

Beeld van een van de Selfie Automaten kunstwerken
Beeld van een van de Selfie Automaten kunstwerken

Exhibition Selfie Automaton

In 2017, Museum Speelklok was the proud exhibitor of the Romanian exhibition Selfie Automaton. The exhibition consisted of 42 mechanically powered human and animal figures arranged in different scenes, challenging visitors to make them move. A visual spectacle combining the ancient craft of puppetry with art and mechanics, with the underlying question: who is manipulating whom?

Connection museum collection and Selfie Automaton

This interactive exhibition was created by a team of architects and artists from Romania and Greece for the Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2016. There is a clear connection between Museum Speelklok’s collection and the automata from Selfie Automaton. The puppets are set in motion in the same mechanical way but at the same time shed new light on the museum’s collection. Back then, automata were made for the rich, purely for entertainment. Selfie Automaton is an invitation to self-reflect.

Wintergatan’s famous Marble Machine in Museum Speelklok

The famous Marble Machine of Swedish band Wintergatan was displayed at Museum Speelklok from 1 June to 20 August 2017. Since then, the video starring the ingenious machine has been viewed more than 45 million times on YouTube.

Watch the Marble Machine play here

Marble Machine back to its origins

The Marble Machine was back where it was conceived. Builder and Wintergatan band member Martin Molin came up with the idea to build the machine during a visit to Museum Speelklok in 2014. 14 months of work and 3,000 screws, countless sheets of plywood and 2,000 marbles later, the Marble Machine was completed! Wintergatan’s music is all about mechanical musical instruments – from pounding beats to minimalist sounds.

The new Marble Machine X

In his widely viewed YouTube videos, Molin tells how the Marble Machine had developed a lot of mechanical problems after the video was shot. He therefore decided to ‘retire’ the machine and build a new one: Marble Machine X. A number of parts from the first Marble Machine were restored before it was displayed at Museum Speelklok, making it possible to demonstrate the basic parts, but it was not possible to play entire tunes. One instrument – the vibraphone – was demonstrated and actually played by marbles.

Dirty songs on stately musical clocks

Museum Speelklok’s bell-playing musical clocks revealed a spicy piece of history from the 18th century in the exhibition Dirty songs on stately musical clocks. In the 18th century, luxuriously designed clocks with bell-playing mechanisms were often found in the stately homes of wealthy citizens. These clocks would play a tune to the rich owners at regular intervals. But unlike the stylish clocks and owners, most of the songs played by the clocks had a very different tone! They were simple and often had farcical themes such as peasants’ flirtations and drunkenness. Sometimes they were even about sex or pubic hair.

The elite’s guilty pleasures

The exhibition Dirty songs on stately musical clocks told the story behind the elite’s guilty pleasures. As part of the exhibition, Museum Speelklok organised a concert lecture which included dirty songs. During that lecture, Jos Koning and the Speelhuys ensemble took visitors to the ‘cesspits of ruin’ from 18th-century nightlife.