Strasburg Clock

For over a century the Strasburg Clock model has been one of the most popular exhibits at Powerhouse Museum. A young Sydney clockmaker, Richard Bartholomew Smith (1862-1942), built this model of a famous clock in Strasbourg, France between 1887 and 1889. In the following year the NSW Government purchased the model for £700 and arranged to put it on display at the Technological Museum, as this Museum was then known. There it soon became the main attraction.

Smith based his model on the astronomical clock in Strasbourg Cathedral. Strangely, Smith never visited Strasbourg (which in his time was called Strassburg or Strasburg) to see the clock and claimed to have based his design only on a postcard and a book.

The Museum’s model operates every day starting six minutes before each hour. After some appropriate Australian music and a brief commentary, the procession of the Apostles tells a story from the Christian bible. In an alcove figures representing the four ages of Man change every quarter of an hour while there is also a crowing rooster and two cherubs, one of which turns a sandglass. Among a variety of fascinating dials one shows the position of the planets in relation to the Sun and another shows how the Sun, the moon and the stars appear over Sydney.

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