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MMD > Archives > January 2008 > 2008.01.17 > 01Prev  Next

Montana Heritage Commission Ridicules Collection
By Matthew Caulfield

Former Bovey Collection Now a Disgrace

There are quite a few mechanical music clips on YouTube, and most
of them present the instrument shown in a positive way.  One has to
make allowances for the quality of the video camera used and for the
conditions under which the taping was done.  And YouTube's software
may not be of Cinemax quality.

But Tim Trager pointed me earlier this week to four positively
ghastly videos of machines in the Nevada City (Montana) Music Hall.
That collection, now owned by the Montana state government, has as its
nucleus the former Bovey collection, which is described on p. 297-301
of Art Reblitz' "The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments."

The thing that disgusts me is not the poor musical condition of the
instruments but the fact that the signage on them, apparently posted
-- or at least sanctioned -- by the Montana Heritage Commission, pokes
fun at the instruments and ridicules their performance.

I suppose this is all done to entertain and amuse the tourists and
milk them of their pocket change, whereas the government sponsors
of the museum should be educating their visitors and fostering an
appreciation for good mechanical music.  To see what I am raving about,
go to the following link for one machine, which will allow you to find
the other three, if you can stand them:

AMICA has sponsored the restoration of a piano from the Nevada City
collection, as can be seen here:

Now who is going to rescue the other instruments, which the
site-manager bureaucrats claim are all maintained in operational

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

 [ At
 [   The Montana Heritage Commission takes pride in managing some of
 [   the most valuable and fascinating historic sites in Montana...
 [   In 1997, the Montana Legislature purchased Virginia City and
 [   Nevada City from the Bovey family.
 [ At
 [   The Nevada City Music Hall houses the largest public collection
 [   of automated music machines in North America.
 [ At
 [   Welcome to the Montana Heritage Commission's Department of
 [   Education and Interpretation. ... Translated loosely,
 [   interpretation is the important messages that visitors to
 [   Virginia and Nevada Cities see when they get here and take with
 [   them when they leave.  We help tell the stories that matter most.
 [ -- Robbie

(Message sent Thu 17 Jan 2008, 21:17:34 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Collection, Commission, Heritage, Montana, Ridicules

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