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Rosenbaum Sculpture Takes Center Stage in New Patent Model Exhibition

Friday, May 7, 2021
The Velocipede Time Machine

The Velocipede Time Machine, a steampunk sculpture designed by Bruce Rosenbaum, has landed in its new home: The Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware. The half-ton contraption occupies the lobby of the Visitor Center, which will be transformed into a showcase for the museum’s collection of 19th century patent models. Dubbed Nation of Inventors, the exhibition is set to open this fall.

Between 1790 and 1880, the U.S. Patent Office required inventors to submit small-scale physical replicas of their creations as part of the patent application process. The Hagley collection includes more than 5000 patent models, most of which arrived in 2016 when the museum acquired the Rothschild Patent Model Collection from Alan and Ann Rothschild.

Rosenbaum’s sculpture was inspired in part by three patent models: A velocipede (bicycle), an electric dynamo, and governor balls for a steam engine. Other inspirations included the time machine from the H.G. Wells novel and armillary spheres depicting celestial objects. Components include an early 1900s dental chair, 1890s bicycle handles, and old sewing machine parts.

The Velocipede Time Machine pilot

The machine is “piloted” by a life-size time traveler that bears an uncanny resemblance to the artist. This is in line with Rosenbaum’s other “Humachine” sculptures that incorporate historic inventors and authors.

The exhibition will also include a new model representing the time machine, a “patently false patent,” as Rosenbaum describes it.

The artist collaborated on the sculpture with Salmon Studios of Florence, Massachusetts. Dubbed the “Steampunk Guru” by The Wall Street Journal, he’s also known for the Steampunk House in Sharon, Massachusetts, near Boston. More recently, he and wife Melanie converted an old gothic church in Palmer, Massachusetts into a home, gallery, and workspace. Their project was featured in an episode of Amazing Interiors on Netflix.

The museum occupies a 235-acre property that includes the site of a gunpowder factory established in 1802 by E.I. du Pont. Other exhibits include a working 19th century machine shop, the E. I. du Pont garden, and the first du Pont home in America. Some indoor locations are currently closed due to COVID-19 safety guidelines.


Velocipede Time Machine, Hagley Museum (Modvic LLC)

A Visit with the Steampunk Guru (The Steampunk Explorer)

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