ASILVER swan musical automaton, created in the 1770s by Belgian horological wizard John Joseph Merlin—who also invented the roller skate—will glide over to the Science Museum, London SW7, next year for blockbuster exhibition ‘Robots’ (February 8 to September 3, 2017, 0333 241 4000; www.sciencemuseum.org.uk).
It will be the first time the life-size swan has left the Bowes Museum, Co Durham, since 1872. Earlier travels included the Paris Exhibition of 1867, where it entranced Mark Twain, who described its ‘living grace’ and ‘intelligence’ in his novel The Innocents Abroad.
The swan rests on a stream made of twisted glass rods interspersed with silver fish and, when the mechanism is wound up, music plays, the rods rotate, creating the illusion of running water, and the swan twists its head to preen its back, then bends to catch a fish. Visit www.thebowesmuseum. org.uk for further information.