Daily Workshop Demo: Guinness Mechanical Musical Instruments & Automata

Wednesday through Sunday at 2pm beginning May 11!

See, hear, touch, and explore! The Guinness Workshop reopens to the public with newly reinstated daily demonstrations. Explore the history of mechanical musical instruments in an interactive setting. Investigate technological advances in 19th-century programmed media ranging from pinned cylinders to perforated metal disks and punched paper rolls. Marvel at our most recent acquisition, the 1876 Salon Barrel Orchestrion by Bernard Dufner, and create your own mechanical musical score on our ‘punch-a-tune’ Pling-Plongs! The workshop is perfect for visitors of all ages.

Then continue your visit with a demonstration of mechanical musical instruments collected by Murtogh D. Guinness. Made in Switzerland, France, and Austria towards the end of the 18th century, these instruments stand as living documents of the overtures, waltzes, and folk music of the time. The disk music boxes of the late 19th century show a shift to a broader audience and to more popular music. In the 1890s, disk box production expanded from Germany and Switzerland 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. After the workshop, don’t forget to watch our Guinness Gallery orientation film and stroll past Parisian shop windows displaying our collection of automata. Like the mechanical musical instruments in the collection, the French-made musical automata on display in the Guinness Gallery represent a broad array of styles and showcase the talents of their makers. The Morris Museum’s collection is one of the finest of its type in the world, in terms of breadth and depth, and constitutes one of the largest public holdings of automata in the United States.

Photo Credit: Demonstration area of the Guinness Collection at the Morris Museum.


May 18 2022


2:00 pm - 2:15 pm