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Oxy's Doodling Knight Exhibit

This guide accompanies the physical exhibit on display in the Gallery, located on the main level of the Mary Norton Clapp Library. Included are additional information about the artists and scientists featured, bibliographic information for the items on di

A Doodling Knight–STEAM–@ Oxy

Special Collections and College Archive's current exhibit, A Doodling Knight-–STEAM–@ Oxy is currently on display in the Gallery located on the main level of the Mary Norton Clapp Library. The exhibit runs through early April 2023.


map of gallery on main level of mary norton clapp library

Tours of the exhibit are available! Please contact to schedule one.

Designing This Exhibit – A Note from the Curator

The current exhibit, A Doodling Knight-–STEAM–@ Oxy, located on the main level of the Mary Norton Clapp Library, seeks to engage all audiences. There's a bit of playfulness; you can choose to make your own pop-up T-Rex or watch how the mechanical knight's arm draws a picture of a champion horse. At the same time, physics, anatomy, and math are there to explain the creation and design of the mechanical knight, building design, and even a large solar energy project.

In designing this exhibit, I had to think out of the box, going beyond the processes I have employed in the past. I knew that I wanted to display the mechanical knight because it immediately captures people’s attention with its playfulness, cool design, and combination of science and art that come together to make the arm draw a picture. It would have appeal to kids as well as adults. I thought about other items held in SCCA and realized I had a bit of a challenge to put together the exhibit I had in mind. It turned out that SCCA did not have everything that I was looking for, so I did some background research to see what other ways I could build an exhibit around the mechanical night.

As I began my research, I got really excited about what I found. My look into the designer of the mechanical knight, Robert Sabuda, led me to pop-up books and paper engineering. His work then pointed me to the Renaissance artist and inventor, Leonardo. This was the beginning of what turned out to be an exciting research process and also a new approach for designing an exhibit.

I took what I learned and turned to SCCA’s collections to find material relevant to my research. I selected some key pieces that highlight both our rare book collection and College Archives. I also turned to Oxy’s general collections and to resources available online to round out the exhibit. This combination of materials reflects the research process I employ whether I am writing a scholarly article for a History journal or curating an exhibit. It requires the use of a variety of primary and secondary sources, in print and digital, from libraries, repositories, and the web both here at Oxy and throughout the world and benefits from collaboration with colleagues. During this process, I also had the opportunity to identify areas where SCCA could further develop its collections, and I am excited to bring new perspectives into our collections soon.

I hope you enjoy my experiment. It provides a bit of humor and a flashback to your childhood; yet, it aims to make you stop to think about how science, technology, engineering, art, and math are deeply embedded in so many of the things we encounter every day.

– Julie K. Tanaka