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Sunday, February 19, 2012


Automata, mechanical figures, have been around since ancient times, but the golden age of automata was during the Victorian era. Murtogh D. Guinness, of the brewery Guinnesses, was a collector of automata and mechanical musical instruments. His 700 piece collection was awarded to the Morris Museum in Morris Township, NJ. Over 150 pieces are now on permanent display in an exhibit called Musical Machines & Living Dolls: Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata from the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection.

I recently had the chance to explore this incredible exhibit. As I’ve mentioned many times, crafting comes in all shapes and forms. Automata and mechanical musical instruments incorporate art, craft, science, and engineering into spectacular pieces of entertainment.

Automatic Banjo
 Think back to a time before television, radio, movies, and the Internet. Aside from live entertainment, people were entertained by mechanical music boxes and automata. The techniques used to make these intricate devices were the precursors of the record player.

A Musical Sewing Box

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Unknown said...

Love, love automata and music boxes! I collect smaller powder box music boxes from the 20's. Wish I could find automata!w

Jane R said...

I love music boxes and this collection is so unique. What an interesting field trip you took. Thank you for sharing!