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Musical Instruments
The museum’s nationally-known collection of over 600 musical instruments dates from the 17th to the 20th centuries and includes instruments used by everyday Americans as well as polished professional musicians.  Included are violins and spinets like those used by wealthy colonists; fifes, drums, and clarinets used by members of military bands; elegant pianos and harps played by well-to-do young ladies during the early 19th century;  violins, dulcimers and other stringed instruments played at rural dances during the 19th century; brass and woodwind instruments used by members of town bands at concerts and parades; and mass-produced pianos, parlor organs, guitars, violins and mandolins eagerly purchased and played at the turn-of-the-20th century by middle-class Americans.  Also of note are several fine 17th and 18th century violins by master violinmakers, including both Antonio Stradivari (About 1645-1737) and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu (1698-1744).  These violins were acquired by Henry Ford during the 1920s.

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pic of the month

Additional musical instruments from the collection are highlighted in our Pic of the Month online exhibit, including a violin by Antonio Stradivari and a helicon instrument played in a late 19th century brass band.


Music & Sound
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Last Updated: 02/17/2010