An illustrated jester sits among large gray gears in an image reminiscent of the iconic scene from the Charlie Chaplin film "Modern Times"
The Humor of Mechanization
01 April - 30 June 2023
Skylight Gallery - 6th Floor
Main Library

100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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Book Arts & Special Collections presents the annual exhibition selected from the Library’s Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor, opening on April Fool's Day. This exhibition takes a comic look at mechanization as it takes command of the home, factory, business, transportation, entertainment, and communication.

Chances are the subject of mechanization isn’t part of your everyday dinner conversation; yet the machine is behind practically everything we consume and use in daily life: the food we eat, the tools in the home and garage, the appliances on our countertops, the clothes we wear and our home furnishings. At the factory and workplace we spend much of our lives working on or surrounded by machines. These innovations are the results of mechanization brought about by centuries of inventors and engineers, some of whom will forever remain among the anonymous heroes of civilization (or maybe not!).


Related programs: Enjoy SFPL's Thursday at Noon film screenings at the Main Library.

  • April 6: Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), 12pm, Koret Auditorium, Lower Level
  • April 13: Modern Times (1936), 12pm, Koret Auditorium, Lower Level
  • April 20: Desk Set (1957), 12pm, Latino/Hispanic Community Room, Lower Level
  • April 27: Idiocracy (2006), 12pm, Koret Auditorium, Lower Level