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Out of darkness cometh delight; DaysOut GRAHAM YOUNG VISITS THE MAD MUSEUM.

I'VE no idea what the Bard would have made of the latest tourist attraction in his home town.

But if you are heading to Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend for his annual birthday celebrations, you might be tempted to make your own mind up.

You don't have to be MAD to go to the Mechanical Art & Design Museum which has sprung up down a little alleyway at the side of Cafe Paste on Sheep Street.

But it probably helps.

I certainly don't mind admitting that after an hour in this place it felt like it had 'done my head in'. Maybe that's the whole point of what's known as 'kinetic art'!

It's quite dark inside the museum, which is the result of a lifelong ambition by Kenilworth-based businessman Richard Simmons. And then there's the noise. The constant whirring, clunking and clanking of metal bits as they go round in circles, up and down or in and out.

Is this where you really want to be when you could be enjoying a peaceful walk by the River Avon on a nice, bright day? At MAD, you'll see how kinetic artists from across Europe have tried to come up with all manner of ways of illustrating everyday things with some very complex machines.

Some can be bought, if you have a spare pounds 20,000 or so.

David Williams' Signum Detector, for example, looks like the back end of an old fashioned boiler.

But it has been 'designed to be evocative of early Chinese devices that indicated and determined the direction of seismic disturbances'.

Another Williams' exhibit is called Queue #2 Meccano. The caption says: 'Ode to bureaucracy... the ping pong balls end up going round and round in perpetual circles.

Does this ring any bells?' It certainly does! Elsewhere, a face mask moves thanks to pulley wires and a box keeps changing shape thanks to an internal laser light show. Without the kind of thinking which has gone into the exhibits, would we have any planes, trains, automobiles, mobile phones and iPods today? And, if our children aren't exposed to this kind of 'madness', will they ever become mechanically minded themselves? So, in essence, think of MAD as a mini Thinktank.

An hour of your life. That's all it will take... Go on. You know you'd be mad not to frazzle your brain.

VisitorInfo The Mad Museum is open at Sheep Street, Stratfordupon-Avon, seven days a week, from 10.30am-6pm Mar-Oct and from 10am-5pm from Nov-Feb.

Admission: adults pounds 7.80, children pounds 4.50, under fives free. Tel: 01789 269356 or visit www.themadmuseum.coc.uk

CAPTION(S):

It's MAD: All manner of weird and wonderful creations are housed. Interesting concept: David Williams' Queue #2 Meccano follows ping pong balls on their journey to back where they began.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 20, 2012
Words:466
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