"The Art of Rube Goldberg" celebrates one of the most-influential and prolific cartoon illustrators of the 20th century--best known for his whimsical invention drawing cartoons. Marking the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of his work since 1970 (the year he died), the exhibition will chronicle all aspects of the artist's 72-year career, from his earliest published drawings and iconic inventions to his Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoons and beyond.
Bringing together never-before-exhibited original works of art, preparatory drawings, video, and related ephemera, the exhibit will offer visitors an opportunity to witness the development of Goldberg's artwork and trace his rise to prominence as well as his lasting inspiration for generations of aspiring scientists, engineers, and inventors of all ages--providing an intimate look into the life and legacy of one of the keenest and wittiest observers of modern times, whose name has entered the cultural lexicon and whose influence continues to reverberate into the 21st century.
Born in San Francisco in 1888 and graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in engineering, it is no surprise that Goldberg's academic roots informed his crowning artistic achievement: his invention drawings, which highlighted the unique burlesque of our modern age of invention while making him a cultural icon. Featured prominently in the exhibition, this section will explore how Goldberg's zany contraptions caught the popular imagination and became, as he put it, "a symbol of man's capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results."
In many ways, Goldberg could be considered the grandfather of STEM education, as he blended science, technology, engineering, and mathematics long before the acronym existed. Paired with his zany and fun invention drawings and political cartoons, Goldberg also pioneered STEAM, with "art" playing a key role.
"The Art of Rube Goldberg" will allow the National Museum of American Jewish History to offer different types of interactive learning one would not expect from a history museum, as it will be hosting the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for high school-aged students. The contest will require them to build overly complicated and comically contrived inventions that complete a simple task. This year marks the 30th anniversary of RGMC, which now include participants from more than a dozen countries in both online and live events.