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Explore the Graese Gallery
Move your cursor over and/or click on instruments in this gallery to learn more about them!
The Graese Gallery is devoted to American music and musical instruments exhibited within the context of American social and cultural life, ranging from the instruments of the indigenous peoples of North and South America to those played by Civil War bandsmen. These American musical expressions are represented by displays including more than 140 instruments.
The Civil War exhibit in the Graese Gallery features rope-tension drums and over-the-shoulder horns used by the infantry, as well as an example of the circular, helicon-style instruments used by the cavalry.
Mandolin Orchestras were all the rage in the early 20th century, leading to a proliferation of shapes and sizes. In addition to the numerous Gibson mandolins on display in the Graese Gallery, one can also see an airplane-shaped ukulele by Stromberg-Voisinet Co. (Chicago, ca. 1930), designed to honor the American aviator, Charles Lindberg; a kite-shaped mandolin by F. Lang (Chicago, ca. 1908); a Washburn mandolin by Lyon & Healy (Chicago, ca. 1898), with a delicate, inlaid, mother-of-pearl butterfly pick guard; and, a guitar-shaped mandolin by Almcrantz (Chicago, ca. 1895-1907).
Stanley G. Newton (1911-1971), like his father, studied, repaired, and made violins in Ottumwa, Iowa. All of his forms, benches, tools, drawings, reference materials, parts, and even some bottles of left-over varnish are on display in the Graese Gallery.
A Vocalion model, American reed organ by Mason & Risch, Worcester, Massachusetts, ca. 1895, dominates the southwest corner of the Graese Gallery. It's pipes, made of solid wood, are an ornamental facade. A beautifully preserved square piano by William Knabe and Co., Baltimore, 1891, is displayed next to the organ. The piano was shipped from the Knabe factory on May 4, 1891, to David & Mary Jane Siler of West Manchester, Ohio, who gave it to their daughter Maude, on her 14th birthday, September 22, 1891. She kept the piano in her possession until her death in 1955; in March 1956 it was moved to Arlington, Virginia. The piano was donated to the NMM by Max Siler Wehrly, Arlington, in 1980, in memory of his mother, Maude Siler Wehrly (1877-1955). Standing next to the piano is an unusually shaped harp-guitar by Emilius Nicolai Scherr, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ca. 1831, from the collection of the famous Norwegian violinist, Ole Bull.
The southeast corner of the Graese Gallery features a melodeon by the Prescott Organ Co., Concord, New Hampshire, ca. 1871-1881; a rare, double-chromatic harp by Henry Greenway, Brooklyn, New York, ca. 1890; a square piano by Hallet, Davis & Co., Boston, ca. 1858; and a harp by Sebastian Erard, London, 1812, formerly played in the Norris Harp Orchestra.
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