Guinness Collection: Mechanical Music & Automata

Guinness Collection: Mechanical Music & Automata

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Ticket Price

General Admission

$12

Members

Free

65+ & Children 3-12

$8

Children under 3 yrs

Free

Art and technology take a waltz together in the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of historic mechanical musical instruments and automata.

From music boxes to player pianos to mechanical dolls that move—discover a fascinating trove of mechanical musical instruments and automata. The 750 mechanical marvels in the collection span 400 years when technological advancement was transforming many aspects of human life, including how we enjoy music and art. From a miniature music box that fits into an 18-karat gold ring to the enormous Poppers “Rex” Orchestrion, which plays a whole orchestra of instruments and is powered by a complex pneumatic system that is over 100 years old. These are some of the earliest examples of “music on demand.” But while the smartphone in your pocket delivers music seamlessly and invisibly, the musical instruments in the Guinness Collection reveal their intricate design by way of moving gears, cylinders, levers, and hammers in a delightful display of ingenuity.

The automata—dolls and figures that come to life through mechanized movement—make an equally impressive display of art and craftsmanship. More than 150 pieces from this extraordinary collection are displayed in the permanent exhibition Musical Machines & Living Dolls: Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata from the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection. Additional examples are viewed in the lower level visible storage gallery. 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 wooden barrels.

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