The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection

Guinness Collection


In 2003, the Morris Museum was awarded the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of 750 historic mechanical musical instruments and automata (mechanical figures) and more than 5,000 programmed media, ranging from player piano rolls to pinned cylinders.

As one of the most significant collections of its kind in the world, highlights of the collection are displayed in a spectacular 4,300 square foot permanent exhibition Musical Machines & Living Dolls: Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata from the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection. This interactive exhibition features more than 150 pieces from this extraordinary collection and takes visitors on a journey through the history of on-demand musical entertainment. Viewable storage provides visitors with broader access to the balance of the collection.

Come enjoy our daily demonstrations, Tuesdays through Sundays at 2:00PM.

Brett King, detail of the Aetherologist, 2012, Cary, North Carolina.

A Cache of Kinetic Art: Curious Characters
March 16, 2018 – June 20, 2018

Whirr! Whoosh! Whorl! WHEE! The Morris Museum is pleased to unveil a four-year exhibition series entitled A Cache of Kinetic Art. Intended to highlight the creative energy and animation of kineticism, it will feature artistic interpretations by present-day artisans who fuse new design with the innovative use of traditional and contemporary media.

Join us for the first installment, Curious Characters, which will focus on distinctive figural forms, from traditional to abstract.

Get more details about this exhibition.

A Convention for Automata Enthusiasts
May 18 – 20, 2018
Morris MuseumThe Morris Museum is thrilled to once again host AutomataCon, the second international convention devoted to automata. Drawing enthusiasts from around the world with over a dozen presentations including technical workshops, panel discussions, and exhibitor tables, this bi-annual event is a perfect complement to A Cache of Kinetic Art: Curious Characters.  For program updates and to purchase tickets, visit

AutomataCon Logo by founder and convention chair, Brett King.


The Guinness Collection in the News

The conservator of the collection, Jeremie Ryder, speaks to WMBC-TV about Murtogh’s Music Room, part of the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Guinness Gallery.

The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection: A Life’s Work

The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection reflects the passion of its namesake for preserving and sharing the joys of antique mechanical musical instruments and automata. Murtogh D. Guinness (1913-2002) regarded the collection as his life’s work, and he persistently traveled the globe to search for the finest surviving instruments of their kind. He lived day-to-day with these devices, studying and refining for over 50 years what became a collection of 750 objects.

Virtually every category of mechanical musical instruments and automata from the late 16th century through the early 20th century is represented in the Murtogh D. Guinness collection, which was awarded to the Morris Museum in 2003. At the core are cylinder and disc music boxes. Made in Switzerland and France beginning in the late 18th century, cylinder music boxes stand as living documents of the arias, overtures and waltzes of the time. The disc music boxes of the late 19th century show a shift to a broader audience and to more popular music. In the 1890s, disc box production expanded from Germany to Switzerland and also to the United States, where New Jersey became the home of American music box production. The collection includes numerous instruments made in Jersey City, Rahway and Bradley Beach.

Like the mechanical musical instruments in the collection, the musical, French-made automata represent a broad array of styles. Snake charmers, magicians, singing birds, and other figures in the Murtogh D. Guinness collection showcase the talents of their makers and constitute one of the largest public holdings of automata in the United States.

Collection Highlights

Mysterious Melodies of Madama Butterfly

"Harmoniphone" Program Card

“Harmoniphone” Program Card

Discover the music box in the Morris Museum’s Guinness Collection that is deemed the Rosetta Stone for the origins of melodies in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Audio clips:

1 – Sinfa/Mo-li-hua 2 – Chum Chie Lin 3 – Poutzi/Banzi/Pantse

4 – Loe Tee Kun Stin 5 – Shanghai mody 6 – She pah moh/Shiba-mo

“Buffet Magique” or The Magic Cupboard  Automaton by G. Vichy/Triboulet, c.1900

Tightrope Dancer with Musicians Automaton by Phalibois or Cruchet, c.1875

“Floutiste”, Life-size Flute Player, Automaton by A. Théroude, c.1869-77

“Maid Dusting Portrait,” Automaton by Louis Renou, c.1900

“Clown Illusionist” or Clown Magician, Automaton by Phalibois, c.1895

“Méphistophélès”, Automaton, by Leopold Lambert, c.1886-1900

Poppers “REX” Orchestrion, by Popper & Co., c.1915

2003.18.216ab ”Home Music Box,” Reed Organette, The Autophone Co., Ithaca, NY., 1908
Performing: “The Arkansas Traveler” (c.1847-50), attributed to Colonel Sanford C. Faulkner, Jose Tosso or Mose Case (?)





2003.18.242a-e“Organocleide” Cylinder Musical Box, Moulinié, Geneva, Switzerland, c.1855
Performing “Guillaume Tell. Chorus” by G. Rossini (1824-29)





2003.18“Orchestrophone” Fairground Organ, Limonaire Frères, Paris, France, c.1914.
Playing Lucien Brou’s “Echo de La Butte” of 1901.


2005.18a-g -web “Sublima Corona” Style 32, coin-operated Disc Musical Box, Regina Music Box Co., Rahway, New Jersey, c.1899
Performing: “Wedding Bells Rag” by Al B. Coney (1910)

Guinness Collection Ringtones



Poppers Rex, Indian Love Call, c. 1923

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Limonaire Orchestrophone, Revez Mignon Waltz, c. 1914

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Musical Necessaire c.1825

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Mills Violano Virtuoso, St. Louis Blues, c.1925

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