Machine Room
of the Gods


How Our Future Was Invented

Extended until 1/21/2024

About the exhibition

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The Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung is devoting an exhibition to one of the most exciting connections in the history of mankind—the connection between art and technology. It is a global narrative, full of cryptic fables, myths and visions, fictive and real innovations and outstanding masterworks. The exhibition will shed light on the history of the sciences in antiquity and the Arabic and Asiatic cultures and their influence on the development of art. Technology and art were closely intertwined in antiquity. The Greek term “techne” stands for all “arts”—engineering, construction, et cetera. Primarily, it concerns the knowledge and study of the human mind. Scientific research was pursued with the aim of advancing the human civilization and culture. Whether the pyramids by the ancient Egyptian mastermind Imhotep, the mechanical automata and animated sculptures described by the Greek author Heron or experiments with the first camera obscura by the Arab mathematician Alhazen—they all exemplify how scientific and artistic work go hand in hand.

The Frankfurt exhibition will feature 97 prominent objects from international museum collections such as the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musei Capitolini in Rome and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, as well as from the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung’s own holdings, including the “Statuette of Imhotep” (Egypt, 332–30 BC), the “Statue of Athena” (Roman, AD 1st c.), the “Buddha head” (Cambodia, Angkor Wat, end of 12th–beg. of 13th c.), a “Universal Astrolabe” (by Aḥmad ibn as-Sarrāǧ, Syria, 1328–1329), the “Maria Immaculata” (by Matthias Steinl, Vienna, 1688) and the “Apollo Kithara” (by Jeff Koons, 2019–2022). The multimedia exhibition architecture will transform the entire Liebieghaus into a museum in which art and science of more than five millennia come to life.

Curator: Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Brinkmann (Head of the Department of Antiquities and Asia, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung)
Project management: Jakob Salzmann, assistant curator (Department of Antiquities and Asia, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung)

Ticket Special

Free admission to the Liebieghaus

Visit “Holbein and the Renaissance in the North” at the Städel Museum and get free admission to “Machine Room of the Gods” on the same day. Valid from 1 December until 23 December 2023. Special events are excluded.

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“The exhibition at Frankfurt’s Liebieghaus offers an unobstructed view of ancient science and its influence on the history of culture. In antiquity we can observe how science was the point of departure for a conception of a fantastical future technology—much as we know it today from the science fiction genre.”

Philipp Demandt, Director, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung




Please contact us to arrange your group visit—even if you do not wish to book a guided tour.

Booking and advice

Telephone: +49(0)69-605098-200

For a complete overview of the programme accompanying the exhibition, please visit the German exhibition page.


The book accompanying the exhibition deals with the latest research on science and technology in myth and art from antiquity to the golden age of Arab-Islamic culture. Light is shed on the early precise records of astronomical events, as well as the technology of automata and kinetic sculpture.

Available in the museum shop and in our online shop.

To the catalogue in the online shop

A journey through more than five millennia

Mounted throughout the presentation of the Liebieghaus collection, the exhibition offers captivating dialogues between Liebieghaus works and loans from international museum holdings. The tour of the show covers a period of more than five millennia.

Our knowledge of European antiquity comes above all from the cultures of Egypt and the Middle East. The Greeks and Romans developed it further, enhancing it in the process with philosophical thought. As there were hardly boundaries but merely spheres of influence, scientific experience spread across entire regions and new knowledge emerged. Yet that development ended in late antiquity wherever the sciences were suppressed for religious reasons. Wars, crusades and the influence of the Christian church in Western Europe posed a threat to the knowledge amassed by antiquity. In the Arabic-Islamic cultural region, on the other hand, the accomplishments of the ancient sciences and philosophy were translated and developed further. From the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, Baghdad, Cairo, Samarqand and Damascus were centres of knowledge with prominent scholars and universities in the Arabic sphere. Only gradually did their insights trickle to Europe, where they would ultimately meet with a resounding response in the Renaissance.

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Sponsors & patrons

Sponsored by: Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, Gemeinnützige Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain GmbH, Freunde der Tat des Städelschen Museums-Vereins e. V.

With additional support from: Stiftung Polytechnische Gesellschaft Frankfurt am Main

Media partner: Frankfurter Rundschau
Cultural partner: hr2-kultur