Subscribe to YouTube Channel

The Steampunk Explorer Assists With Traveling Museum Exhibition

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

As editor of The Steampunk Explorer, I’m generally reluctant to accept paid freelance work related to steampunk. That’s due mainly to conflict-of-interest concerns. When I write about steampunk happenings on this website, I want people to be confident that I’m covering the news due to its merits, not because a certain party happens to be paying me.

But some opportunities are too good to pass up, and so I recently provided consulting and editorial services for Discover Steampunk, a traveling exhibition that opened Feb. 1 at the Western Heritage Museum in Hobbs, New Mexico.

If the title sounds familiar, this is the same exhibition that ran in 2018 at the Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls. It was originally conceived by steampunk artist Bruce Rosenbaum in collaboration with Imagine Exhibitions, a company in Atlanta that creates exhibitions for museums, zoos, and other venues. It served as a showcase for Rosenbaum’s “Humachines” steampunk sculptures, along with examples of 19th and early 20th century technology. Imagine provided historical artifacts, a multimedia narrative, and other elements.

The original exhibition was organized into eight galleries. One introduced the exhibition while the others focused on 19th century inventors and authors: Thomas Blanchard, Jan Matzeliger, Isaac Singer, George Eastman, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley, and Jules Verne. Aside from the entry gallery, each featured one of Rosenbaum’s Humachines depicting the historical figure. You can read more about the exhibition in this profile of the artist I ran back in April 2019.

A Smaller Footprint

Since then, Imagine has downsized the exhibition, and Rosenbaum has taken back five of the seven Humachines, leaving the Mary Shelley and Jan Matzeliger sculptures (the Mary Shelley sculpture is shown above). The company says the smaller footprint will expand the number of venues that can host the exhibition.

Though it’s been downsized, Discover Steampunk is still organized into the same eight galleries, with lots of historic inventions as well as interactive exhibits inspired by 19th century technology. Many artifacts are on loan from The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Imagine Exhibitions asked me to provide additional material about contemporary steampunk culture, so visitors will also see panels about steampunk authors, costuming, makers, and events, along with an expanded introduction to the genre.

This was my first experience working on a museum exhibition, but I was struck that it wasn’t much different from creating editorial content for a book or magazine. In both cases, the goal is to educate and inform people, but instead of presenting the material on a page or website, it goes on a panel, albeit in small easily digestible pieces.

The exhibition is set to run at the Western Heritage Museum through June 5. After that, it moves to Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee, where it will run from June 18, 2022, through Jan. 8, 2023.

Rosenbaum plans to install the other five Humachines this spring at his home gallery, which occupies a former church in Palmer, Massachusetts. The gallery will be available for tours by school groups, clients, and invited guests, he told us, but it won’t be open to the public.

Artist info: 

Keep up with news in the world of steampunk. Sign up for our free weekly newsletter, Steampunk Digest, delivered to your inbox every Thursday. You’ll get it a day before it’s posted on the website.

Support The Steampunk Explorer!

Patreon: Make a monthly pledge of $1 or more. Includes premium content.

Tip Jar: You can tip the editor in any amount via

CafePress: Buy T-shirts, buttons, or tote bags with our logo.