Magic! Radio Cabinet and Come Along Cuffs

How much do you know about magic? It’s time to see through the illusion! The Magic! exhibit is now open at HMNS. Throughout the run of the exhibit, check back here for exclusive videos and descriptions of the unique items on display from curator Scott Cervine.

Radio Cabinet

This “radio cabinet,” built by Massachusetts illusion builder Charles Catulle, was repainted by CBS artists and introduced into the Harry Blackstone Jr. road show, which had a record-breaking run at Broadway’s Majestic Theater.

A woman is tied into a large cloth bag and placed in the cabinet. The top of the bag is drawn through a hole in a tray inside the cabinet, and all the doors of the cabinet are closed. After rotating the cabinet to show all sides, the top is opened and the cloth bag is pulled through the hole in the tray – the woman has apparently vanished.

Come Along Cuffs

A “come along” cuff, such as these, secures only one hand, but has a handle to keep the cuffed prisoner under control. These cuffs were used by Harry Houdini in one of his breathtaking escapes.

Magic! Houdini’s Needles and Thread

How much do you know about magic? It’s time to see through the illusion! The Magic! exhibit opens tomorrow, Feb. 26, 2010 at HMNS. Throughout the run of the exhibit, check back here for exclusive videos and descriptions of the unique items on display from curator Scott Cervine.

Although Houdini performed large scale illusions, such as making an adult elephant vanish in the Hippodrome Theater in New York, his masterful showmanship also allowed him to make a signature performance from a handful of needles and several yards of thread.

Houdini Needles and Thread
On display in Magic! starting Feb. 26

Houdini would swallow the needles, then the thread. His mouth would be inspected by a doctor to be shown free of guile, and then he would apparently regurgitate the thread, which suddenly appeared between his lips. In pulling the thread from his mouth, the needles were now seen to be threaded at intervals on the thread.

Although not original with Houdini, prior performers had done the feat with a few dozen needles and a few feet of thread. Houdini used enough needles and thread to fill the stage and created as great an impression with these simple, inexpensive items as did with larger props from his workshop in which he invested thousands of dollars.

Magic! Prepare to be dazzled

The Great Moscow State Circus, 2008
Creative Commons License photo credit: dirkjanranzijn

Who isn’t totally amazed by magic? A seemingly empty hat, a rope cut to pieces and a magician handcuffed and locked in a trunk. And…

ABRACADABRA!

Suddenly, the empty hat has a cute, fluffy bunny; the rope is whole and solid; and a magician appears to open the trunk and reveal a confused, bound assistant locked inside.

These tricks inspire a sense of wonder, even in adults. We know its not “real” magic, or sorcery…there is illusion, deception and misdirection behind every performance. Still – that knowledge doesn’t make it any less spectacular, or any less mysterious. Magicians can make the seemingly impossible, real.

Though their methods are enshrouded in secrecy, magicians combine the art of performance with a variety of scientific disciplines, including math, physics and psychology, to create their dazzling effects and fascinating illusions.

And the countdown is on! Just two weeks from today, you too can experience the wonder of magic, up close, in our new exhibit, Magic! opening February 26, 2010. This exhibit has it all, with over 100 artifacts and relics from the incredibly rich history of magic. See the water trunk that Houdini escaped from, a rapping hand that answered audiences questions, and much, much more. Be astonished by live performances and magicians who wander through the exhibit.

Looking for even more? Join us for our distinguished adult lectures, come to our VIP night, or take a hands-on class in magic!


Scott Cervine, guest curator of the exhibit, explains how he started down the road of being a magician in his first post in an ongoing series on Magic. In the days leading up to the opening and throughout the run of the exhibit check back here for exclusive videos and descriptions of the unique items on display.

You can buy tickets in advance here; grab them quick, before they all disappear!

Having trouble seeing the video? Click here.