Living Dolls: The Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata at the Morris Museum
Observatory (543 Union St., Brooklyn)
The Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey is one of the finest collections of automata–or moving mechanical toys popular in the 18th Century and 19th Centuries–in the world. Compiled over 50 years by heir to the Guinness beer fortune Murtogh D. Guinness (1913-2002), the collection features scores of immaculately preserved historic automata–many of them produced in 19th Century France–with subjects ranging from snake charmers to magicians, singing birds to anthropomorphic monkeys, Cleopatra in her death throes to a waltz-playing Mephistopheles; it also includes a number of mechanical musical instruments and a variety of programmed media ranging from player piano rolls to pinned cylinders.
Earlier this year, Observatory brought a group to visit this collection in person; for those of you who were unable to join us–or who are hungry more!–we are bringing the automata closer to home. Tonight, we invite you to join Jere Ryder, Conservator of the Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata at the Morris Museum, for a live demonstration of antique automata drawn from both the Guinness Collection and his own personal collection. Mr. Ryder will detail the history of these bewitching toys with an illustrated lecture on their history, show an introductory video, and demonstrate and describe the mechanics that bring them to life.