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Magical Music Machines

Exhibition from the Monarchy exhibition series.

29.6.2012-28.1.2013 / Location: Czech Museum of Music, Karmelitská 2/4, Praha 1

Self-playing musical instruments.

The exhibition on the border between art, science and technology, tells the story of self-playing musical instruments from the 16th century to the present age.

The perception of musical machines has changed in the course time, but the automatic machines have still embodied the question of the existence of boundaries between a living and non-living, and what actually is life. Bellows replaced a human breath, weights and clock springs replaced a human strength, complicated mechanical tractures replaced complex finger movements, cylinders with pegs, perforated belts or hard disks substituted a human memory and consciousness. Automatophons measured up to a live musician and they even surpassed him at the interpretational technical mastership. Even though we live in a digital age, where "everything" is possible, the musical machines still evoke in us feelings of something supernatural, mysterious, endowed with a charm, something what goes beyond us.

Visitors will see more than 50 automatophons and 50 accompanying exhibits from Europe and the United States divided according to their basic types. The will get acquainted with  a carillon, musical clocks, organ machines, flute clocks, music boxes, polyphons and symphonions, barrel organs, automatons, orchestrions, an automatic piano and contemporary electronic musical instruments. The exhibition offers textual information, photos, the opportunity to listen to audio and video records of the exhibited items made specially for this occasion. Visitors can try out how to start and operate the selected instruments.


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