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Fantastic Fairground Factory exhibition at Tullie House

Be astounded by the spectacular Fantastic Fairground Factory Exhibition at Tullie House this Summer.

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre presents the Fantastic Fairground Factory at Tullie House Museum, a brand-new exhibition exploring the secrets of the fairground with interactive exhibits designed to bemuse, baffle and bewilder.

This summer the Fantastic Fairground Factory exhibition brings all the fun of the fair to Tullie House with automata and interactive games to inspire and amaze. Families can explore the well-loved characters and sideshows found at the fairground with a collection of beautiful and amusing automata and awe-inspiring optical illusions. Then get hands-on and discover the science of the sideshow with a shadow puppet theatre, helter-skelter marble run and traditional fairground games in a fun-filled exhibition for all ages to enjoy.

Fantastic Fairground Factory opens on Saturday 29 June and runs throughout the summer holidays until Sunday 6 October. The exhibition will feature 30 stunning, intricate and interactive automata inspired by the fairground, created by renowned and international artists. Large scale interactives will provide visitors with a better understanding of the secrets and science behind the art of automata.

Tullie House are looking forward to hosting another Cabaret Mechanical Theatre exhibition after the success of Mechanical Circus, an interactive exhibition of historical and contemporary automata which attracted over 12,000 visitors when it was on show at the Museum in 2014.

Sarah Alexander of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre explained “We are delighted to be returning to Tullie House with this exciting new exhibition. Automata from our collection made by 13 different artists, including Paul Spooner, Ron Fuller and Peter Markey, will be brought to life in a fairground atmosphere, with clever illusions, a chance to test a fairground ride, create a mechanical shadow puppet show and use gears and pulleys to reveal your future on our new Wheel of Fortune.  A wonderful collision of art, science and fun!”

The exhibition includes some fairground favourites:

  • Discover the wonders of gravity with an interactive helter-skelter marble run.
  • Baffle the senses with optical illusions and the Hall of Mirrors.
  • Discover characters and tell stories with a mechanical shadow puppet theatre.
  • Get a glimpse into the future and have a go on the Wheel of Fortune.
  • Impress with games of skill to test reflexes and nerves of steel.

Charli Summers, Programme Manager at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery said: “We are thrilled to be working with Cabaret Mechanical Theatre again following 2014’s Mechanical Circus exhibition. The automata and interactive games really make art, science and engineering fun and accessible for our family audiences. We are looking forward to an exciting summer”

Opening weekend

Saturday 29 June

  • First look at the Fantastic Fairground Factory exhibition
  • Drop-in craft sessions between 1pm-4pm
  • Bookable, Junk Modelling Automata workshop**

Sunday 30 June

  • Fun fairground games for the whole family*
  • Bookable, Junk Modelling Automata workshop**
  • Spectacular performances from Euphoric Circus performers
  • Fairground amusements in the museum gardens including face painting

Throughout the summer holidays there will be family craft drop-ins between 1.00pm – 4.00pm, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Relaxed craft sessions are bookable between 11.00am – 12.00pm, every Tuesday during the summer holidays, for those who may feel overwhelmed during our usual drop-ins.

The Tullie House learning team have provided several bookable automata workshops for children. See the Tullie House website for more details.


Free admission to the exhibition and family drop-ins for Annual Ticket holders and accompanying children. A day ticket is available at £6.50 for adults and £3 per child.

*There will be an additional charge for some activities on Sunday 30 June.

**The automata workshops will cost £10 per child, booking is essential. Call the Box Office on: 01228 618700

Don’t let the kids have all the fun; Tullie House is hosting two after-hours events for adult visitors, starting with life drawing in the gallery on Tuesday 2 July, a fun and welcoming drawing experience inspired by the exhibition, with music and drinks to get your creativity flowing. The event will run from 7.00pm until 9.00pm and tickets are £10 (£8 for students).

On Friday 20 September you can explore the dark side of the fairground with a special late opening of the exhibition. With music, live performances and creative interventions inspired by sinister sideshows, freaky fairground rides and disorientating illusions. The event will run from 7.00pm until late and tickets are £10 (£8 for students).

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