Mechanical music has had a long history and that is why it is not surprising that a museum of mechanical music exists. In fact, it dominated the entertainment industry for centuries. It molded many significant figures and on most occasions, instruments that we might not have known were mechanical in nature.
However, not everyone always know where museums for mechanical music are because it is not being advertised as much as the larger museums that curate to a more general audience.
Below is a list of places that you can visit that has at least one museum of mechanical music established on its soil, and the names of the museums that you can potentially visit.
Switzerland has since been considered the birthplace of mechanical music. This is all thanks to Antoine Favre who, in spite of not being considered as the person who started the public introduction of mechanical music, integrated a smaller scale music box mechanism into his pocket watch which he drew inspiration from the many bell towers that so many people in the Middle Ages relied on.
In fact, towns were built around these bell towers where they flourish. It is just unfortunate that their use has been reduced once both the spring and the comb was made.
Additionally, towards the end of the 19th century, many people from across the globe immigrated to the country, specifically in Sainte-Croix, to work in the mechanical music industry and helped make mechanical birds and automatons.
That is why Switzerland has the right to claim the title of being the Land of Mechanical Dreams.
Below are the one to consider when looking for a museum of mechanical music.
A museum of mechanical music that is established at the very core of the mechanical music world, Sainte-Croix. The Centre International de la Mecanique d’Art has been known to be a museum fully committed to mechanical music. In fact, they show their commitment to the mechanical music indsutry by making sure that they continue to give workers in the industry a space to showcase their talent.
The most consistent way they provide this opportunity is by allowing craftsmen of mechanical music and instruments to continue making mechanical birds and music boxes as a supply for when it is needed.
In addition, you must visit and have a look at the phonautograph which was made by Sigmund Freud because it is currently on the display.
Seewen has been in the spotlight among historians of mechanical music because their museum of mechanical music has become closely associated with The Britannic. This is the name of the organ that was put on board the sister ship of the Titanic, The Britannic.
It is currently on display in Seewen Museum of Music Automatons.
The Britannic, which was thought to have been lost for over a century since it was last seen onboard the sister ship was found during the restoration of what was initially thought of as the Welte Philharmonic.
However, during the restoration, the workers noticed that underneath the organ was three stamps that indicated ‘The Britannic’ and since then, they found realized that this was the very organ that graved the floorboards of the famous ship’s sister ship.
These two are two museums in Switzerland that you have to check out if you are in the country. These two have the most iconic backstory, and more importantly, the most iconic displays among the many mechanical music museums.
MUSEUM OF MECHANICAL MUSIC: FRANCE
The French has been synonymous to anything related to culture especially when it came to art. This is evidenced their world famous Louvre and many other art exhibits.
They have also gained the reputation of being producing world reknowned talent in the world of music. It has produced countless talents in every era like in the Classical and Renaissance periods.
France is also the birth place of the phonautograph which is a mechanical device designed to both record and reproduce those recordings on demand.
All these reasons sum up why you are surely going to find at least one museum of mechanical music on French soil.
At Les Gets, this museum of mechanical music is housed in a restored building with a long history of housing individuals from the past. In fact, as evidence by the mechanism that currently welcomes its guests, it might have been built around the 19th to 20th century.
The building was once lived in by the Presbyterian order. It was later converted into the House of Sister before it was finally restored as a museum.
One of the most standout properties in the building is already featured at the entrance. It is where the bell tower mechanism is installed as it welcomes guests to its many exhibits. It is a good reminder that the music boxes that Favre introduced was not the first, but it might be third iteration of the mechanism to be made; third, at best, if we are being generous.
Bell towers were vital in the everyday life of the people during the Middle Ages because this was the only way for them to know what the time was. It was not until the spring was introduced when the watch was invented. In addition, the introduction of the teeth and comb mechanism that the music boxes as it we know today started to exist.
The French has always been at the forefront of innovation and being ahead of its time, but they are never against looking back to the past, and that is why, when it comes to the history of music, you will be able to take a trip to a museum of mechanical music.
MUSEUM OF MECHANICAL MUSIC: LONDON
The United Kingdom, specifically the English capital of London, is one of the European cities that is a hodge podge of culture. Just like France, its place in history has been long standing and the way they preserve their history is one of the finest across the globe.
This can be seen in the way they continue to preserve all their buildings as close to their original as possible, and sometimes, it is to the detriment of progress. However, that is also the beauty of it.
For this reason alone that everyone should expect to find at least one museum of mechanical music in the streets of London, and the more prominent ones are mentioned in the list below.
This museum of mechanical music, established in Cotton, invokes the Victorian times with their brightly lit background. However, at the forefront of the exhibition are various versions of the organs that were either made by world-renowned master craftsmen from Limonaire and Bruder, and Gavioli.
in addition to these organs, there are also organs that are significantly relevant for the time that they were they were built. For example, during the 20s when everything was all about the disco bars and dance halls, the museum showcased a cafe organ and a dance organ by Mortier and Decap, respectively. Then, to represent the 30s is a Wurlitzer cinema organ that once graced the Leicester Square Theater at the heart of the city itself. In fact, they even built a platform to mimic the set up done when the organ was played during the decade.
The Mechanical Music Museum tries to reflect the culture and lifestyle around Cotton in the bygone days. To experience that firsthand is irreplacable.
The museum of mechanical music has a long history, and cities and countries have significant contributions in its development overtime. Those who have capacity put up museums to pass older lifestyles to the generations that come after them.
Outside of the building where it is now known to stand, the Musical Museum, like many museums started out as a private collection. In the beginning, he only had half a dozen mechanical instruments playing compositions that were programmed into it, until he was granted the space inside St. George’s Church for the purpose of gathering all of the collectibles under one roof.
It is amazing thought this museum of mechanical music is still standing because initially, the contract was only supposed to last two years, and yet, it still stands 40 years after the initial contract was supposed to end.
The help he received from the Charitable Trust may have helped its longevity, but the unique collections that it has gathered over the years may have attracted enough people to the attraction that it urged many decision-makers for it to stay.
Their main focus is to reflect not only how sound is being recorded mecahnically, but also for this museum of mechanical music to relay how the same sounds are being recorded.
Additionally, The Musical Museum might also be the one museum of mechanical music, or one of the few that might actually hold a significant number of music rolls. According to the most recent count, its roll library might account to at least 20,000 rolls.
The Royal Academy of Music Museum and Library
The Royal Academy of Music Museum is one museum of mechanical music that has two very important purposes. The first is being a museum that loves to impart the many works that significant musicians in history has done.
The second, and maybe the most important role of the Royal Academy of Music Museum and Library is molding the future to become relevant figures in the industry.
In its museum, however, holds the many signs of its alumni passing through their halls. It may be a composition, but most of the time, it is a piece that is closely associated with the artist who wielded it, regardless if they were dead or alive.
Examples of instruments that are featured in their many exhibits including a Stradivari violin which was once played by Queen Marie Antoinette, and aVienesse piano that has six pedals, which is a stark contrast to the ones which normally hold three to four.
All of them unique items, and all of them inside the museum of mechanical music for visitors to swoon over and enjoy while it plays a song.
Fenton House and Gardenhttps://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fenton-house-and-garden
Aside from the Fenton House and Garden is a museum, having an apple orchard that has been around for at least 300 years is a welcome addition to what the house already offers.
It is only natural to have a scenic view for the museum because it is in Hampstead, and Hampstead is known for its beautiful scenery, regardless of where you could be at the moment in time.
However, those who attend this museum of mechanical music are allowed to use the many instruments that are being featured in the museum’s exhibit which is an added bonus for visitors. On most occasions, guests in museums are not allowed to play the instruments.
On the other hand, any museum of mechanical music does not need anyone playing their instruments for composition to be heard. They are classed as mechanical because they do not need anyone to play the instrument for them. That is why being able to play any instrument in an exhibit is a welcomed bonus.
For each museum of mechanical music, gathering all these exhibit is both taxing, and oftentimes, difficult. They can also be expensive, even when the item is just for a temporary display.
However, imparting a story is a vital responsibility of any museum of mechanical music. They try to cover each and every decade but focuses more on the larger and more relevant pieces in their inventory especially those which have any connection to where the museum is currently built.
Mechanical music has come a long way since its origins – when a single bell tower signals those around it what the time was. Many variations after, and we are still dealing with mechanical music instruments, and they have become a regular in our daily lives; its significance still living on.