Among the rural cherry orchards of Acme, Michigan, eight miles north of Traverse City, can be found a renovated 12,000-square-foot white barn and historical attraction known as the Music House Museum.
The museum houses an extensive collection of some of the finest and rarest automated musical instruments, showcased in authentic, turn-of-the-century settings. The collection has been meticulously restored and the instruments still play, bringing to life some of the greatest musical artists of the past.
The museum's showcase items include a 1924 Wurlitzer Theater Organ and a 97-key Mortimer Dance Organ, built in Antwerp in 1922. There are also antique music boxes and jukeboxes, air-powered music machines, phonographs, nickelodeons, church organs, and radios on display.
The one-hour tour is also highlighted by a boisterous demonstration of the Amaryllis - a 30-foot-wide, 18-foot-tall automated organ that once entertained guests in the 1920s at the Victoria Palace ballroom in Ypres, Belgium. The rare, ornate organ makes use of dozens of specially tuned organ pipes and percussion instruments to recreate the sounds of a large European orchestra.
In addition, the museum also features re-creations of a general store, saloon and lyric theater.
And an exhibit known as the Traverse Model City makes use of scale models to showcase some of the buildings that existed in Traverse City in the 1930s.
There are also special exhibits and events, such as the silent films The Blacksmith, along with Seven Chances, The Navigator, and Cops, which all star Buster Keaton, and The Tramp, starring Charlie Chaplain.
The museum also hosts an annual School Days, which traces the history of musical instruments via an event called "From Edison to iPod.'' The museum has also hosted an antique car show for a number of years, as well as its traditional Biggest and Best Barn Sale.
There's also a slate of performances during the Chamber Concert Series season, featuring performances such as:
"An Evening of Chestnuts for Theatre Organ"
"Rudy Weidoft (vaudeville virtuoso) and Friends"
"Songs from Broadway to Opera ?100 years"
"Dixieland Band at its Best"
The Northwest Michigan College Band
According to a veteran board member, the Music House Museum is one of the area's best kept secrets, drawing in the thousands on a yearly basis. The guest book, however, shows that the museum pulls in visitors from around the country and the world.
The museum tour schedule runs from May through October and on weekends in November and December.