The Crankie Factory


Moving Panorama of Pilgrim's Progress - Sat., Aug. 8th, 2015 in Saco, Maine

Saturday, August 8, 5:00 p.m. 
Saco City Hall, Saco Maine
Tickets $5 at the door

OK everyone, THIS IS IT!!! There is going to be a live perforamance of a FULL SIZE moving panorama.  This is a site rarely seen, so please spread the word. I will post more specifics as I receive them.  EXCITED!!!!  Here is a link to The Crankie Factory's page about this moving panorama

Join us for an exciting performance of the full-scale, modern replica of The Moving Panorama of Pilgrim's Progress. Come recreate the historic experience of seeing a moving panorama in action with live piano music by Jeff Rapsis and narration by Colby Harrison. Don't miss this opportunity to meet the authors and get a signed copy of the new panorama book, The Painters' Panorama.

What's a Crankie?

Hello! I am a fiddler, guitarist, stepdancer and crankie artist living in Seattle, Washington.  What exactly is a crankie?  It's a panoramic scene, rolled up inside a box, then hand-cranked so that it scrolls across a viewing screen.  If you haven't seen one before, then a picture (or video)  is worth a thousand words. You will find hours of viewing on this site.

The term crankie, is being used now to name this very old art form.  In the mid 19th Century, they were called moving panoramas (among other things).  This scrolling, picture art form is experiencing a bit of a comeback.  I am very excited to be a part of it.  This website attempts to connect the old (moving panoramas of the 19th Century) with the new (crankies being made now by artists in the US and beyond).


To watch new crankies: click on the WATCH A CRANKIE pageIn that section you will find crankies made by me and many other artists from the US and Europe. 


To watch moving panoramas that were made in the 19th Century, click on the "Moving Panorama" section.  There are videos of large and small panoramas that have been filmed by museums, historical societies and private collectors. Heartfelt thanks and gratitude to those individuals working to restore and preserve this forgotten piece of our history.


I hope you enjoy looking around this site, AND, above all, I encourage you to make a crankie

Sue Truman

Created Sept. 3rd, 2012

Find The Crankie Factory on FacebookYou Tube and you can follow me on Twitter at SueTruman1


Katherine Fahey - I am working on several new crankie artist pages this summer.  The first one is award-winning Baltimore artist Katherine Fahey.  She has been a huge inspiration to me and other crankies artists around the world.  See her page here and check out her website

Make a Crankie!  This section is for those of you setting out to make your first crankie.  It's a compilation of pictures and tips from various artists. It's still a work in progress but there is a lot of information there to get you started.

This photo is from Michelle from Brooklyn, NY.  She made this crankie box from the directions on this site and it made my day!  Yeah!!  I hope some of you will be inspired to try it!

SUMMER READING! Special thanks to independent researcher Suzanne Wray, for helping me with this selection of books.  I just ordered the new book, A Painter's Pamorama:Narrative, Art, and Faith in the Moving Panorama of Pilgrim's Progress.  Looking forward to that!

The NW Folklife Crankie Fest was a great success.  Performances by Charmaine Slaven with Charlie Beck,  Greg Johnson,  Dejah Leger with Louis Leger and Sue Truman with Rich Hill, Skye Richendrfer and Julia Derby.  Read about it here!

ON-LINE CRANKIE FEST - This new crankie was created and performed by Sweet Sunny South, a storytellling group from Georgia comprised of  Debbie Westen From, Hannah Sage  (Debbie's teenage daughter) and Tracy Walker.  Check out Debbie's website

Carmontelle's Landscape Transparencies - Louis de Carmontelle was an eighteenth-century French  painter and garden designer. He painted a series of panoramas on translucent paper that became a popular source of entertainment at royal court gatherings. These rolled-up transparencies (rouleaux transparents) were cranked through a backlit viewing box, and were accompanied by storytelling. Some of the scrolls have survived and are housed at The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  Watch a video of one of the "roll transparencies" filmed by The Getty Museum.  To learn more, check out the book Carmontelle's Landscape Transparencies by Laurence Chatel de Brancion.

The Trans-Siberian Express at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900 - A fabulous article written by Arjan den Boer, published Nov. 2014, In 1900, at the Paris Universal Exposition, there were not one, but two moving panoramas of the Trans-Siberian Express. One of the moving panoramas painted by Pavel Piasetsky survives to this day and is housed at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The picture is Pavel Piasetsky with his moving panorama. This is the most panoramic box ever!

Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley - From the St. Louis Art Museum, painted by John J. Egan, Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley, c.1850. Separate panels of this 1850s moving panorama were on display at the St. Louis Museum of Art as part of the Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the West exhibit which ended in May,  2015.   The first  link is a time lapse video of a crew setting up one scene of the moving panorama. 

the exhibition travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum, on view from February 22–May 17, 2015. It closes in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 15–September 20, 2015. - See more at:
After premiering at the Amon Carter, the exhibition travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum, on view from February 22–May 17, 2015. It closes in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 15–September 20, 2015. - See more at:
After premiering at the Amon Carter, the exhibition travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum, on view from February 22–May 17, 2015. It closes in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 15–September 20, 2015. - See more at:

Henry Box Brown  (1816-c.1889) was a Virginia slave who escaped to freedom by arranging to have himself shipped to Philadelphia abolitionists in a wooden box. He  went on to become a successful moving panorama showman in the US and then in England. 

Read about this truly remarkable story. Find out more in the book The Unboxing of Henry Brown by Jeffrey Ruggles.

Letter from an Unknown Women - A three minute excerpt from the 1948 movie. It shows a couple in an amusement park where they are taking the train ride.  The scenery that is passing by in the window is a bicycle powered moving panorama.

Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles by Prof. Erkki Huhtamo has gone into it's 2nd printing and has received the highest rating "Essential"  from the American Library Association. If you are interested in learning about the history of moving panoramas, this is it! AND, check out his new website