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.

Learn more about two key pieces in the collection:

  • Pierrot Ecrivain Automaton by G. Vichy, Paris, France, c1895.  See the video
  • B.A. Bremond, “Orchestre Complet”, Interchangeable cylinder musical box – 1867 – See the video


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


Special Exhibition Spotlight: The Mechanical Turk

Come to the museum to see this life size chess-playing automaton, and watch a portion of the History Channel’s “Lost Magic Decoded.” As Napoleon had in 1809, International chess master Andranik Matikozian is invited to play against the Turk—who will win?

Get more details.


Rachelle Weir, Hat Ride, 2018. Wood, found objects. Photo courtesy of the artist.

A Cache of Kinetic Art:
Tiny Intricacies (March 13, 2020 – January 10, 2021)

The contemporary mechanical works in Tiny Intricacies may be small in size but they are designed to delight and surprise. Some of the works are traditional in their construction using materials such as wood, metal, and paint; others reflect more technological advancements, predominantly engineered utilizing electronic components.

Get more details.


A Cache of Kinetic Art:
Timeless Movements (March 18, 2022 – August 7, 2022)

Our multi-year exhibition series, A Cache of Kinetic Art, showcases contemporary automata and their inventive creators. They focus on contemporary interpretations of 19th century mechanical music and automata, fully embracing advances in both machine and digital technology.  Juxtaposing the technical ingenuity and functionality of a bygone era, the kinetic works in this exhibition highlight innovative engineering, design, imagination and messaging of present-day artisans.

For artists, below are the prospectus, plus the entry and owner verification forms, for the exhibition coming up in 2022.

The due date for entries for Timeless Movements is September 10, 2021.

2022 Timeless Movements Prospectus 

2022 Timeless Movements Entry Form  

2022 Timeless Movements Owner Verification


David Bowman,The Baron and the Moon the Battle Dragon. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Adventures of Baron von Steubon and Cromwell: A Kinetic Tale by David Bowman
November 14, 2019 – March 1, 2020

David Bowman’s storybook The Adventures of Baron von Steubon and Cromwell springs to life in this series of 18 mechanical vignettes. These kinetic sculptures tell the story of two automatons and their exciting journey on land, at sea, in the air, and back to the past as they encounter fantastical mechanized beasts in their quest for long-lost family and treasure.

More details about this past exhibition.


“A Cache of Kinetic Art” Logo by Sarah Gonzalez.

A Cache of Kinetic Art:
Simply Steampunk
March 15, 2019 – August 11, 2019

Simply Steampunk is the second installment of our four-year exhibition series, A Cache of Kinetic Art, exploring kineticism in contemporary artistic practice. Only fully appreciated when set in motion, these imaginative works capture the wondrous vision of a world powered by steam-engine technology from a bygone era. Combining 19th-century machine aesthetics with creative expression, engineering, and design, the interactive sculptures and installations in Simply Steampunk delight the senses with amazement, luminosity, sound, and movement.

Fore more details, please visit https://morrismuseum.org/events/a-cache-of-kinetic-art-simply-steampunk/

See the exhibition on the PBS program, State of the Arts, produced by Eric Schultz of PCK Media.

Leadership support for this exhibition is provided by our partners at M&T Bank.


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

A four-year exhibition series featuring a variety of themes – A Cache of Kinetic Art, debuted in March 2018.

Curious Characters, the initial installment in this series, focused on distinctive figural forms, from traditional to abstract. It highlighted the creative energy and animation of kineticism, featuring artistic interpretations by present-day artisans who fused new design with innovative use of traditional and contemporary media.

See a video of the artwork that was in this exhibition.

See the video feature by Discover Jersey Arts.


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 in 2017.

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

 

Harmoniphone Program Card. Photo by Jere Ryder.

Mysterious Melodies of Madama Butterfly

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


Home Music Box, Reed Organette, The Autophone Co., Ithaca, NY., 1908 Photo by Ed Watkins. 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 (?)


Organocleide-Cylinder-Musical-Box-Moulinié-Geneva-Switzerland-c.1855-2003.18.242a-e.jpg

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


“Orchestrophone” Fairground Organ, c.1910
Limonaire Frères, Paris, France
2003.18.3a-e

“Orchestrophone” Fairground Organ, Limonaire Frères, Paris, France, c.1914.
Playing Echo de la Butte, Scottische – Lucien Brue.


“Sublima Corona, Style No. 32”, coin-operated disc musical box, c.1899
Regina Music Box Co., Rahway, New Jersey, USA
2005.18a-g

“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

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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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