Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Let your mind soar!" ~ The Elliot Museum

Bruce and I recently attended the grand re-opening of The Elliot Museum.  Its new 48,000 square foot facility is a marvel - that's the best way for me to put it.

"Elliott Museum Grand has reopened following a multi-million dollar 'green' reconstruction project that includes a new building with expanded galleries.

The new 48,000 sq ft (4,459sq m) environmentally friendly museum will provide expanded galleries, studio space, as well as a 50-seat theatre, cafe, archival library, and flexible space for up to 500 people.

The museum, a 53-year-old Martin County institution, has undergone a major re-visioning as well. Focusing on art, history and technology, the new Elliott Museum aims to tell the story of the region, capture the spirit of innovation and celebrate the power of originality.

Located on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, the facility features a 3,000sq ft (279sq m) Changing Exhibition Gallery that will allow the museum to host prominent travelling exhibits, seven dedicated permanent collection gallery spaces, an expanded art and teaching studio, Kiplinger Galleries including a community history lab (opening in October) and Thurlow Library and Archives.

The museum was originally founded in 1961 by Stuart resident, Harmon Elliott, as a tribute to his father Sterling Elliott, a prolific inventor that inspired the museum's theme of innovation.

The first exhibit in the Changing Exhibition Gallery will be Leonardo da Vinci Machines in Motion a dramatic hands-on display of 40 full-size machine replicas made directly from Leonardo's innovative designs and drawings." ~ Aoife Dowling

First - the da Vinci machines - incredible!

Flapping Bird:  In this ornithopter (a machine designed to fly by flapping its wings)  the pilot functions as the engine. He stands in the middle of the structure hooked up to a complicated drive transmission. By moving his arms, legs and head, he powers the flapping of the huge wings.
Armored Tank:  During Leonardo's time, a number of people designed armored vehicles.  His version was to be operated from the inside by eight men who would load and fire the cannons and turn the cranks to move the wheels.

A "bombard", an early cannon, originally fired a stone ball. Leonardo's version fired exploding shells.  It should be noted that Italy was at war with France at the time - hence many of his wartime inventions.
Leonardo designed this crane not only to lift materials, but to rotate in a circle, transporting its load from one area to another.
Leonardo's odometer, a device for measuring distances.
Olive Oil Press
Automated Printing Press - Leonardo hoped to print his drawings, but this didn't occur till the early 17th century, long after his death.
This machine represents what may be the world's first humanoid robot.  Leonardo designed it to open and close its jaws, sit up, wave its arms and move its head.

Here Leonardo wanted to find out if a flapping wing could raise a person into the air.
Another of his flying machines.
A water powered saw.
Leonardo's arched bridge (also known as the "saving bridge" because it provided soldiers a way to find safety) was easily built and dismantled and required no ropes or brackets.
The webbed glove for sea-swimming was modeled after ducks and other web-footed animals.
The water lifter rotated a spiral which lifted water from the bottom to the top.
 Next is the Wheels of Change Exhibition

 “The Elliott Museum owns the most comprehensive assemblage of Model A trucks in the world.

To present this collection in an innovative and exciting new way, this exhibit’s robotic, three-story stacking system will allow visitors to select one of these 55 vehicles for closer viewing and then watch as it moves from its storage slot onto a custom turntable. The vehicle’s journey to the turntable will be enhanced by a multimedia presentation.
The custom turntable will then rotate the vehicle for the visitor’s viewing experience. The fact that Sterling Elliott invented this turntable design adds to the experience. Inventor Elliott likely would have approved that his invention is being coupled with this unique robotic system, designed by Boomerang Systems; its use in the new Elliott Museum marks the first time in this country that such a system has been installed in a museum.”
From somewhere in three stories of 55 vehicles, one is selected and brought down to a rotating platform for all to see.  It is then returned and another is chosen in its place.  It's amazing!

Lastly I bring you the Baseball Gallery:

"The Elliott Museum may have the most comprehensive signed collection of baseball-related items outside of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. It includes autographed baseball cards, baseballs, bats, and other artifacts. The new gallery in which this significant collection will be displayed, located on the second floor of the Museum, tracks the game’s evolution, highlights players who changed the sport, and showcases Florida’s role—which included popularizing Spring Training—in the sport’s culture.

The Museum’s baseball collection includes more than 600 baseball cards, from tobacco cards to the present, and most are autographed. In the new gallery the cards will be displayed in two automated cases with rotating spindles. The visitor can easily locate a card in an alphabetically-ordered booklet and then push a button on the corresponding spindle until the card is displayed. Future plans for this display call for full computerization, which will allow visitors to view both sides of a card via a touch screen."

I have not brought you all that there is to see here - but a pretty good taste!  If you are in the area -this is a very worthwhile visit.

Finally - don't forget to "Spring Forward" tonight - how I long for that extra hour of evening light!


  1. This "green" museum is such a gift for future generations. To have an insider's tour of these three incredible exhibits is a real treat. Thank you for taking the time to put this post together! The Wheels of Change Exhibition is extraordinary.

  2. Thanks T.! I must say that I did feel a bit like I was doing a school report - but it was so amazing - I really wanted to get it right. If only I'd put in as much effort in school!

  3. Thank you for this post, Tracy! It was so interesting! I'm still marvelling about all the things Leonardo made... it's unbelievable!

    If I'm ever around this area I have to visit this Museum - it sounds really, really great! And that it is a "green" museum makes it even better!

    1. It's hard to explain how incredible this museum is. I realize that it is probably not for everyone, but for those who are inquisative, it is amazing.