Rube Goldberg’s Artistry Delights In National Museum Of American Jewish History’s New Exhibit

The wonderfully witty work of influential cartoon illustrator Rube Goldberg lines the walls at the National Museum of American Jewish History for the amusing new exhibit The Art of Rube Goldberg, on display now through January 21, 2019.

The expansive retrospective features some of Goldberg’s most prolific and humorous cartoons and invention illustrations  — and even brings some of the famous Rube Goldberg machines from his drawings to life for visitors to interact with.


  • The Art of Rube Goldberg runs now through January 21, 2019.
  • The exhibit features a vast number of Goldberg’s famous invention cartoons, political illustrations and more artwork, some of which has never been exhibited.
  • Guests can build and interact with working simple machines inspired by Goldberg’s art.
  • The exhibit is free with general admission. Admission to the museum is free on November 6 for Election Day.

The Art of Rube Goldberg is the first comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s work and 72-year career since the 1970 exhibit at the Smithsonian.

Rube Goldberg, Foolish Questions Postcards, c. 1910. Color postcards. Artwork Copyright © Rube Goldberg Inc.

(Rube Goldberg, Foolish Questions Postcards, c. 1910. Color postcards. Artwork Copyright © Rube Goldberg Inc.)
Rube Goldberg’s daily and weekly cartoon series — Foolish Questions (pictured), Mike and Ike — They Look Alike and others — featured lots of sarcasm and were influenced by vaudeville and early film.

The exhibit combines artworks, film footage, memorabilia and interactive elements to tell the story of Rube Goldberg’s life and rise to prominence as a cultural icon.

Goldberg is perhaps best known for his wacky invention drawings that satirize society’s obsession with technology. The exhibition prominently features many of his invention drawings, which depict complicated-looking contraptions with steps to follow to use the invention to complete a rather small and silly task.

Visitors have the opportunity to construct their own “inventions” and play with existing ones inspired by Goldberg’s drawings in an interactive area of the exhibition.

Visitors can also peruse some of the Goldberg’s earliest existing drawings; original artwork from the daily and weekly comic strip series he illustrated in the 1920s and 1930s (Foolish Questions, Mike and Ike — They Look Alike and Boob Mc-nutt); and a selection of the satirical political cartoons he drew later in life, including his Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoon commenting on the state of world peace titled Peace Today (1948).

In addition to the bevy of illustrations, visitors can view family photographs; footage from his scripted film Soup to Nuts (1930) starring the Three Stooges; a clip from Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) that features a Rube Goldberg-inspired self-operating napkin; and a rare interview with Goldberg conducted by famed broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.

Rube Goldberg invention cartoon

( Rube Goldberg, Inventions (Bell-Buoy, Soup Spoon, Golf), c. 1938-1941. Color ink and watercolor on paper. Artwork Copyright © Rube Goldberg Inc. )
Rube Goldberg is best known for his invention drawings that satirized America’s obsession with technology.

A number of exhibition-related events and programs take place throughout the exhibition’s run at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

The granddaughter of Rube Goldberg, Jennifer George, hosts a pop-up event at the exhibit on Sunday, October 28 (more details to come). On Tuesday, November 6, for Election Day, the museum offers pay-what-you-wish admission in honor Rube’s political cartoons.

On Thursday, November 8, the museum is open late for two after-hours events. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., admission is pay-what-you-wish for Cartoonists Run Amok, where guests can observe illustrators from the National Cartoonists Society drawing in the lobby, ask them questions and even take home a piece of original art. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Young Friends of NMAJH hosts Curated Cocktails, an event for visitors ages 21 to 40 who want to explore the exhibit and converse over cocktails and snacks (free for Young Friends of NMAJH members; $12 for non-members).

On Sunday, December 9, the museum hosts a Rube Goldberg machine-making contest for students (more details to come).

Admission to The Art of Rube Goldberg is included with general admission. Purchasing tickets to the museum is slightly cheaper online.

Make plans to see this lighthearted exhibition highlighting the life and work of renowned artist, humorist and keen social observer Rube Goldberg.

When:October 12, 2018 – January 21, 2019
Where:National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East
Cost:Included with general admission: $15, adults; $13, seniors (65 and older) and youth (ages 13-21); free, children 12 and under



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply