Art and Engineering in the World of Benjamin Franklin

4-72-Lecture_AndyBarron-1What do Benjamin Franklin, a beloved children’s author, a renowned Hollywood director and a Santa Fe paper engineer have in common? Find out at 1 pm on Sunday, January 19, when Andrew Baron talks about his restoration of an 18th-century Maillardet automaton. The mechanical device (at left with Baron) was a key inspiration for Brian Selznick’s Caldecott Award-winning book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which led, in turn, to Martin Scorsese’s 2011 Academy Award-winning movie, Hugo.

Baron’s lecture and a showing of the film are part of the annual commemoration of Benjamin Franklin’s birthday (January 17, 1706) by the Press at the Palace of the Governors. The event, in the History Museum auditorium, is free with admission; Sundays are free to NM residents.

Automata—mechanical marvels that mimic the movements of humans and animals—were all the rage in France during Franklin’s ambassadorship there. One can easily imagine the great inventor, writer, printer and statesman visiting exhibitions populated with mechanical acrobats, musicians, mice, caterpillars, and singing birds. Continue reading