Yogananda Gardens visits MIM

We want to have our large Yogananda statue slowly rotate spreading his blessings over the whole world.  “But how do you do that? Won’t that take a lot of engineering?” my incredulous friends asked.

So off to the internet I went searching for an example of a rotating statue matching our own in size and slow rotation speed.  I found lots of twirling sculptures – but all of them much larger or much smaller or turning way faster than our own will turn.  Finally I found one at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix Arizona.   An artist had noted in his blog that he had been frustrated trying to sketch the statue when he discovered that it was very slowly rotating – exactly what we were planning!


Richard Walter curator of MIM responded graciously to my email inquiry and after digging deep into his institution’s history led me to Red Rock Contractors, the company that had built the mechanism for their statue.    As it happened, Janakidevi and I were already planning to attend a conference in Phoenix  (The Electric Universe Conference – but that’s another story).   While there we took the opportunity to visit MIM and look closely at the statue.

The Phoenix by Louis Halleux in the courtyard of MIM

The bronze sculpture, called Phoenix was created by the Belgian artist Louis Halleux and is the centerpiece of the courtyard at MIM.  It stands on a smooth cylindrical base about four feet high which has an elaborately hidden door.  Dr. Walter very generously asked his assistants to open the base which they did with some difficulty.  This gave us a good look at the very sturdy interior mechanism, and gave them an opportunity to clean out some plant debris that had collected inside.

Base with the door opened.  Some leaf debris has collected in the empty bottom section. The motor and gears are in the upper section.

In comparing the Phoenix sculpture with our own plans, we noted several things that we hadn’t given much thought to.  For instance the four-foot height of the base with a large beveled rim prevents small children from climbing on board for a ride. We have been planning a base only two feet high.  The top plate that rotates is carefully tapered down to ride very close above the stationary base in such a way that no one could get a finger caught in it.  The Phoenix motor drive runs on the mains electricity.  We are thinking of a battery & solar powered system instead, but we didn’t see anything that would preclude our approach.

The drive mechanism below the Phoenix sculpture consists of a motor and series of gear reductions driving a large gear with internal teeth.

Although the motion of statue is very slow we probably would like ours to move even more slowly.

Interestingly, the floor of the MIM courtyard is composed of variously hewed sections of colored cement very similar to our plans for a colored cement lotus plaza surrounding the Yogananda statue.

dsc09597-1024pxWith us that day was our grandson Mark who is an engineer and quite familiar with what it takes to design and create such a device and meet code requirements.   Mark’s perspective was very helpful as we studied the setup.

All in all we came away from our visit to MIM very encouraged that realizing our dream of a slowly rotating Yogananda statue will be quite practical and straightforward.  We are sorry that we didn’t have time to explore this unique world-class museum of musical instruments … perhaps next time.