The Art of Rube Goldberg

Explore the wacky, wonderful world of this influential artist.

  1. Rube Goldberg was so well known for his invention drawings that his name became interchangeable with the machines he designed. Before he was 50 years old, his name had been added to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as an adjective.

    Photo by Nat Seymour.

     

  2. Goldberg’s invention drawing, Self-Operating Napkin, was chosen as part of the U.S. Postal Service “Comic Strip Classic Series,” which was issued in 1995 to recognize the centennial of the newspaper comic strip.

    Rube Goldberg, Rube Goldberg Inventions United States Postal Service Stamp (included on sheet of "Comic Classics" stamps), date unknown. Sheet of USPS stamps. Artwork Copyright © Rube Goldberg Inc. All Rights Reserved. RUBE GOLDBERG ® is a registered trademark of Rube Goldberg Inc. All materials used with permission. www.rubegoldberg.com

  3. Initially conceptualized for the Evening Mail, this long-running cartoon series pokes fun at the “foolish” questions asked in everyday life, and highlights Goldberg’s screwball sense of humor.

    Rube Goldberg, Foolish Questions Postcards, c. 1910. Color postcards. Artwork Copyright © Rube Goldberg Inc. All Rights Reserved. RUBE GOLDBERG ® is a registered trademark of Rube Goldberg Inc. All materials used with permission. www.rubegoldberg.com

  4. Though best known for his invention drawings, Goldberg was a powerful political cartoonist who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his commentary on post-war America.

    Rube Goldberg, Jews and Arabs, 1947. Charcoal and ink on paper. Artwork Copyright © Rube Goldberg Inc. All Rights Reserved. RUBE GOLDBERG ® is a registered trademark of Rube Goldberg Inc. All materials used with permission. www.rubegoldberg.com

Closes April 23, 2017

From self-opening umbrellas to automated back scratchers, if you can dream it, Rube Goldberg invented it.

For more than 70 years, cartoonist Rube Goldberg drew unique worlds filled with inventive technology and political commentary. Equal parts clever satirist and zany designer, the Pulitzer Prizing-winning artist is best known for his invention drawings—complex chain-reaction machines designed to perform simple tasks.

From iconic board games like Mouse Trap to thrilling music videos such as OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass,” Goldberg has influenced some of the most indelible moments in pop culture. His name is so synonymous with his creations that it was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as an adjective that describes the act of complicating a simple task. The tireless creator is thought to have drawn 50,000 cartoons over his long career.

Today, Goldberg’s ideas live on through the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. This annual international competition challenges teams of students to compete in building the most elaborate Rube Goldberg Machine.

The Art of Rube Goldberg is the first comprehensive retrospective of Goldberg’s 72-year career since 1970. With more than 90 objects on display ranging from original drawings and animations to 3D puzzles, these incredible artifacts are paired with MoPOP’s signature interactive style to bring Goldberg’s imagination to life.

Join us in celebrating this prolific creator who inspired the world to never stop inventing.

The Art of Rube Goldberg is included with museum admission and free for MoPOP members.

The Art of Rube Goldberg was conceived by Creighton Michael; developed in cooperation with Heirs of Rube Goldberg, LLC, NY, NY; and curated by Max Weintraub. Tour organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.