Friday, February 01, 2008

The Murtogh D. Guinness Automata Collection

Sean Hamilton, reader of The Automata / Automaton Blog, was kind enough to share with me his experience at the Morris Museum in New Jersey -- home of the Guinness automata collection. He has generously agreed to let me share it with you here.

Extracts from Sean's Email:

I'm sure you've posted about the Guinness Collection at the Morris Museum in the past, but I haven't seen anything since the permanent exhibition opened last November. I thought I would send you an update.

I was at the museum last week and the exhibit space is very nice. They start things off with a short film about the history of mechanical music, automata, and Mr. Guinness. The displays are heavy on music boxes and mechanical musical instruments but there is a good showing of automata and a nice interactive display with videos of all the exhibited automata in operation.

They do demonstrations of various pieces in the collection daily. The day I was there the demonstration included three musical items and two automata. The Limonaire Freres Orchestrophone was surprisingly loud and its rendition of "The Sidewalks of New York" was thrilling.

During the demonstrations they mentioned that there are 700 pieces in the collection, 150 currently on display and that the other 550 will be available for viewing later this spring. Their website has lots of additional information including movie clips of some of the pieces.

A big thanks to Sean for this glimpse of what must be an amazing museum. I can't wait to go!

Visit the Morris Museum web site for more information on the Guinness collection.

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