Arthur Ganson, Madeline's Fragile Machine. Image courtesy of the artist.

"Rube Goldberg meets Jean-Paul Sartre"
— David Sims, Smithsonian Magazine

"...coax with some kind of recognizable bait,
then leave the viewer to draw his or her own
conclusions and thereby find personal meaning"
—Arthur Ganson

Arthur Ganson, Machine with 11 Scraps of Paper. Image courtesy of the artist. Gestural Engineering: The Sculpture of Arthur Ganson Arthur Ganson, Gestural Engineering. Credit: Joshi Radin.

Arthur Ganson

Kinetic sculptor Arthur Ganson creates machines at once whimsical and philosophical.

Artist Arthur Ganson’s residency coincides with the MIT Museum’s new kinetic art exhibition, 5000 Moving Parts, which includes Ganson’s own piece, Machine with Breath, created in collaboration with sound artist Christine Campanella. Ganson worked with students in MIT Museum Director John Durant’s project-based seminar, “Exhibiting Science,” (STS.035) culminating in the design, fabrication and installation of an original multimedia exhibit in conjunction with the Cambridge Science Festival.

Ganson’s ongoing collaboration with the MIT Museum also includes the museum’s annual “Friday After Thanksgiving Chain Reaction,” a community event thirteen years in the running in which families and students of all ages assemble a giant chain reaction under Ganson’s direction.

Presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), the MIT Museum, and the Cambridge Science Festival.

Arthur Ganson sees himself as a combination of “mechanical engineer and choreographer.” His sculptures are often composed of an extensive amalgam of wires, wheels, gears, grease, paper or steel, as well as natural objects like eggshells and feathers, whose intricate interplay could be used to teach physics, especially the transfer of energy. Moreover, many of Ganson’s works move in waves, or in circles, inviting contemplation of metaphysical questions of time, change and cycles of creation and destruction. One critic has described Ganson’s work as “Rube Goldberg meets Jean-Paul Sartre.”

Arthur Ganson began making kinetic sculpture in 1977, and his work has since been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums in the United States and Europe. He has held residencies at a number of institutions, including the Exploratorium and MIT, where a large collection of his works has been on permanent display in Gestural Engineering: The Sculptures of Arthur Ganson since 1995. His work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Smithsonian MagazineThe New York Times Magazine, and Nova: Science Now. He has been a guest speaker at universities and conferences throughout the country, such as the TED Conference in 2004 and the Long Now Foundation in 2010.

More at the artist’s website: Arthur Ganson.

Past Events

Class Visits
Exhibiting Science, STS.035
Monday March 10, 2014

Exhibiting Science, STS.035
Wednesday March 12, 2014


The Smithsonian: Innovative Lives

TED: Arthur Ganson: Moving sculpture

The Rumpus: Interview with Arthur Ganson: The Man Behind the Machines

Boston Globe: Mechanical, Moving at Same Time at MIT Museum MIT Museum’s Kinetic Art Exhibition

International Business Times: Art In Motion At The MIT Museum

John Durant, Director of the MIT Museum and Adjunct Professor in the Science, Technology & Society Program

Seth Riskin, Director of the MIT Museum Studio

Adam Doyle, Director of Technology at the MIT Museum



Arthur Ganson leans against a robotic artwork.
Arthur Ganson, Gestural Engineering. Credit: Joshi Radin.