(Above) Tom Banwell, Explorer
Exhibition: Steampunk, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, until February 21 2010
While the Ashmolean Museum has spent the weekend welcoming more than 200,000 visitors to its impressively revamped halls, just a small hop away the oldest museum in the city has been making an impact with an unusual exhibition which has attracted its own flow of visitors.
Steampunk is the Museum of History of Science's exploration of a growing phenomenon which creates an imagined sci-fi world and alternative history out of late Victorian invention.
Curated by American Steampunk artist Art Donovan, it is the first exhibition dedicated to the strange genre, showcasing the work of 18 craftsmen from across the globe.
Stephane Halleux, Cosmonaute
Visitors are treated to a curiously eclectic mix of exhibits including computers re-designed by Datamancer (USA), brass goggles by Mad Uncle Cliff (Australia), The Complete Mechanical Womb by Molly "Porkshanks" Friedrich (USA) and Steampunk-style watches by Vianney Halter (Swizerland).
Anyone stumbling across this weird menagerie will soon twig that Steampunk is a bit of a cult. But what exactly is it and how do you define it? Dr Grymm, one of the contributors to the exhibition, describes the genre as "a melding of late 1800s aesthetic with scientific discovery and other-worldly technology."
Daniel Proulx, Steam Punk beholder
It's a handy definition which allows for maximum imagination and variety for makers, even in the concept stages.
As well as redesigning functioning contemporary technology to give it a Steampunk look (watch out for the Steampunk iPod) Steampunkers also create would-be inventions of Heath Robinson proportions, experimental candle-powered engines and clockwork animals.
But it's not just about designed objects. The concept of Steampunk spreads to literature, film and fashion. Think Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow, the animations of the Quay Brothers or Jean-Pierre Jeunet's City of Lost Children and you'll be halfway there.
Molly Porkshanks Friedreich, The Complete Mechanical Womb
The Museum reports droves of Steampunks turning up in full costume (long coat, waistcoat, top hat and brass goggles for men, corsets for girls) to take in the show, adding an extra frisson for the conservatively attired visitors less familiar with the genre.
"Today, the Steampunk movement is alive with artistic creation and ideas to bring ‘a world that never happened’ into reality," adds Grymm.
"Steampunk artists create an alternate world not bound by the modern millennial conventions of physics, science and convenience technology."
Dr Grymm, iPod
A full programme of related events runs alongside the exhibition and a special issue of the Museum's publication, Broad Sheet, includes a specially commissioned comic strip by steampunk artist Sidney Padua.
More information can be found at the show's homepage, or watch the film below for a sneak preview.