Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Fascinating Art of Paper Engineering . . . Fantastic Forms

The fascinating art of paper engineering is the focus of a new exhibit that is on display in the Libraries’ gallery at the National Museum of American History. Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop, and Turn includes 44 books that range in date from the mid-16th to the early 21st centuries, creating a fascinating retrospective of volumes, which were designed and constructed with parts that move. Selected by Stephen Van Dyk, the exhibit curator at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library in New York, the books are divided into four primary categories according to each one’s paper construction type, as well as the mechanisms employed. The groups include Movables, Pop-Ups, Folding Mechanisms, and Fantastic Forms. The Office of Exhibits Central collaborated with the Libraries on the organization and production of the exhibit. This post will focus on “Fantastic Forms,” which embrace those books which contain a combination of construction types.
The fourth category of books included in the exhibit, “Fantastic Forms,” incorporates multiple construction types, which range from traditional mechanisms to ever-changing new innovations.  Mega-Beasts by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart, printed by Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2007, is one of many examples included in the exhibit.

Movable Books 12 final

“Fantastic Forms” book: Mega-Beasts.

Movable Books 19 final

Office of Exhibits Central's Richard Gould and Stoy Popovich place a plexi vitrine on top of the “Fantastic Forms” case base using rubber suction cups.

Movable Books 20 final

The completed “Fantastic Forms” case.

“Fantastic Forms” book, titled One Red Dot: A Pop-Up Book for Children of All Ages, by
David A. Carter, was printed by Little Simon, New York, in 2004.

From their varied subject matter—scientific, theatrical, religious, historical—to their wide-ranging forms of construction—Movables, Pop-Ups, Folding Mechanisms, Fantastic Forms—the books included in Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop, and Turn are multi-dimensional works of art.  The exhibit captures the excitement and wonder, as well as the complexity and sometimes seemingly gravity-defying actions, of these captivating books.

—Lori Dempsey, Smithsonian Office of Exhibits Central

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *