Music always had an important role in the history of man regardless if it was the world of mechanical music or electronic. This is why there are museums across the world that exhibit their story. On most occasions, they are part of a larger exhibit – maybe a section of the entire building. However, there are others that house them almost exclusively.
This is what we will be discussing in this article – the best museums that house the world of mechanical music.
Not only a museum, but an academic institution where past and aspiring musicians trained to become world-reknowned. This museum that looks into not just the accomplisments of musicians from the world of mechanical music, but also their upbringing house one of the most exclusive gallery of musical instruments housed under one roof.
The Royal Academy of Music, found in the heart of the English capital, was first opened back in 2001 through the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund, those which are displayed in its halls hold a Designated status. This is an English system that acknowledges the best displays featured in museums across the country.
In addition, the museum itself is Accredited.
Among those displayed in the RAM are the many stringed instruments made by Stradivari and the Armati family. Additionally, you will also see the horn used by Dennis Brain, Broadwood’s keyboards, Pleyel, and Erard.
The museum in France is focused on displaying the forward thinking – instruments the record and reproduce sounds, musical instruments that are capable of playing without the need of human intervention.
Mechanical Music Museum features the bold and innovative in the mechanical music industry. Among them includes carillons, clocksand music boxes, merry go round organs, mechanical and pneumatic pianos, automatons, just to name a few.
All these gathered in the past 30 years with the help of the Mechanical Music Association.
Additionally, they are excited to expand their premises since their acquisition of a house that exudes personality. Within its confines, they will be opening The Imperial Gallery which will house temporary exhibits and a place where educational trips can be held while on display are the barrel organs.
It’s a fantastic place to emerge into a world of mechanical music.
This mechanical music museum in the Netherlands is true to its host country as its biggest exhibition display is the Street Image exhibition where many organ sculptures are being featured. One of their more recent acquisitions is the De Turk. It once belonged to a barrel organ which went by the same name and is not being operated in Deventer.
The entire piece, which once included the barrel organ, was built by Limonaire Freres, a very famous orgam manufacturer that is highly regarded for the fine sound that their pieces produces. The organ sculpture was separated from the whole when it was repaired, and now that it is found once more, it will be reunited with its platform after a century.
They plan on showcasing the organ sculpture, and many others, once the museum reopens in June. This display is open to the public.
Other than the Street Exhibition, the museum also holds musical tours which features the many instruments that plays even withouth human intervention with enthusiastic guides to tell you the story of each piece displayed. If a guided tour is not what you are looking for, you are also allowed to go on an expitidition within the museum and give yourself a self-guided tour.
The museum located close to Lille features many mechanical instruments that have been restored to their working condition. These are normally featured in its musical entertainment where people can watch automatons working with various instruments playing on their own; without any help from humans.
Additionally, Musee de la Ferme Des Orgues has other attractions that involves automobiles, but that is a whole different attraction altogether.
What makes this museum unique from others is how it celebrates the best local talent, and on most occasions, musicians that are known worldwide such as Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott, Charlie Byrd, and Ella Fitzgerald, just to name a few, and their stories and music are told inside the halls of the museum.
In addition, the Virgiania Music Museum also holds various instruments in different rooms. For example, they have a piano gallery that displays the many forms of the keyboards since the 1760s showing how the instrument has progressed over time. Among them is the Joshua Shudi from 1790, and it is one of two that is known to exist today.
Their displays also include certain music boxes that include the Violano Virtuoso that is in full working condition, and a rare one from the Smithfield Ham Company. In addition, there are also phonographs, and an organ section that features a reed organ, glass, monkey, and Hammond organ including a pipe organ that performed without any human intervention in Norfolk, Virginia.
With that being said, it’s another outstanding place if you are into world of mechanical music.
This museum in Amsterdam, found in Jordaan is a fully automated museum in which its displays play themselves. More importantly, the production that is produced from every exhibition display is as close to the grandmasters that play them generations past.
Their exhibit totals 30,000 pieces and it has a wide variety of instruments from which these could be played, and your time in the museum can be guided, or if you want, you can go according to your own pace.
However, if you just want a unique place to hold events in – a maximum of 50 people – some rooms in the museum can be booked out while specific music can be played according to your requests.
Mechanical instruments housed in one of the more beautiful buildings in the city, Siegfried’s Mechanical Museum is situated within the confines of Bromserhof. It once housed one of the aristocrats in the city, especially during the 5th and 6th centuries.
That is why, in addition to being able to enjoy the many self-playing instruments displayed in the Bromserhof, as a guest, you are also treated to one of the more accurate reflections of late medieval living culture.
Additionally, its walls were once renovated by Heinrich Bromser and his wife, Walpura von Greiffenclau, who changed the way the vaults looked, and added biblical scenes, and added a coat of arms with it, and it normally reflected whatever the trend was at the time.
The estate houses over 300 mechanical instruments that have been gathered in the past 300 years.
The Museum Musica is not exclusively a museum for mechnical music, and rather than just putting items on display or in an exhibit, they let you experience live.
Their way of managing their museum is through shows that will highlight whatever they plan to feature.
If you are a fan of mechanical music and you are in the Middle East, specifically in Israel, it might be worth taking a trip to Nisco Museum.
The Nisco Museum has been deemed to have one of the best collection of mechnical music instruments, especially in the region. This is a result of over 40 years of hard work put in by Nisan Cohen, the founder of the museum, to collect the very best of mechanical instruments that history has to offer.
Among those that are part of the collection displayed in the museum includes music boxes that has existed for at least two centuries, an automatic organ, automatic pianist, and instruments that are held such as pianos and turntables. There are also some automatic pianos that requires some intervention from humans.
The Nisco Museum offers guided tours where you will be listening to specific pieces being played with the mechanical instruments. Taking the guided tour, you will be hearing the dictint stories behind the music boxes that are displayed in their exhibit. An absolutely amazing way to dive into a world of mechanical music.
The homage back to the time when music was only enjoyed live; a time before music was ever recorded, this is apparent the moment you step through the entrance of the Mechanical Music Museum and Bygones in East England, particularly in Suffolk. World of mechanical music
Heavily featured in their exhibit is the Grange Musical Collection, and they have a representative for each age and era.
For example, for the Victorian age, the museum has a collection of fairground organs crafted by Limonaire and Bruder backdropped with brightly lit rides and amusements that was inspired from all over the country during that time period. Then, the 20s, the museum claims is an amusement for the children as they have moving instruments such as saxophones and percussion to accompany the two centerpieces of the decade – the Mortier cafe organ and Decap dance organ which came later during the 20s. This is a reflection of how the decade was all about the dance halls.
The museums then built a stage house to truly reflect how the Leicester Square Theatre showcased their Wurlitzer cinema organ. In addition, it rises during the reveal rather than statically wait on the stage for the crowd to gawk at.
Lastly, for music boxes, the Mechanical Music Museum and Bygones have a collection from the Victorian age in East Anglia. Among them is a massive orchestra box that includes a set of drums, bells, castanets, and wood block.
This is another great place to learn more about a world of mechanical music. Started out from humble beginnings, the collection that is housed today in the Museum of Mechanical Music was initially a personal collection of Luis Cangueiro. He gathered over 600 pieces of mechanical instruments since he started in 1986.
This desire of his started when he was younger when they had an organette. This is a piece of mechanical instrument, cranked by hand to play musical pieces all from a tabletop. This fascination of his grew into a passion in collecting pieces, and when it grew to the scale it is today, he asked an architect to build a facility to house all of his pieces.
Finished in 2016, you will see pieces that were crafted between 1800 to around the 30s reflecting how people interacted socially during those times.
Many claim that the mechanical instruments are not the only attraction in the Museu da Musica Mecanica because even the space that houses Cangueiro’s collection is a sight to behold.
Designed by Miguel Marcelino, a Protuguese architect with the aim of echoing the pieces it exhibits. His thought process was to design the building like how many would regard a music box – simple looking exterior, yet with an interior that reflects sophistication and complexity.
By designing it this way, Marcelino was able to help make the pieces inside stand out, yet in a way, affected how special the design was as well.
A collection located in Oxford, England, it has recently changed the way it operates due to the pandemic.
With its reopening, they have added unique new features for the public to enjoy the many instruments that are featured in its collection.
They have now incorporated technology into the fold and created a phone app that will recreate sounds using human movement. By downloading the app, you just have to grab your phone and move like you are actually playing the instrument, and it will reproduce the sounds that it should be making like you are actually holding each piece in your hand.
In a way, it is a new way of looking at mechanical music and mechanical instruments. Bates showing the public a more modern way of enjoying music in a mechanical way.
Due to the current pandemic, most, or all of these museums are closed to the public nowadays. However, as someone who is passionate about music and a lover of the many stories that it is involved in, knowing that these museums that dive into the world of mechanical music are available once the world reopens just gives you something to look forward to.