The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection

Guinness Collection
In 2003, the Morris Museum was awarded the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of 750 historic mechanical musical instruments and automata (mechanical figures) and more than 5,000 programmed media, ranging from player piano rolls to pinned cylinders.

As one of the most significant collections of its kind in the world, highlights of the collection are displayed in a spectacular 4,300 square foot permanent exhibition Musical Machines & Living Dolls: Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata from the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection. This interactive exhibition features more than 150 pieces from this extraordinary collection and takes visitors on a journey through the history of on-demand musical entertainment. Viewable storage provides visitors with broader access to the balance of the collection.

Come enjoy our daily demonstrations, Tuesdays through Sundays at 2 p.m.

2016 Guinness Programs

Thursday, February 11: Guinness Spotlight: Vaudeville Revue, 6:30-8:00PM

The Guinness Staff hits the “big time” featuring witty vignettes, side-splitting slapstick and musical entertainment using period instruments, including early cylinder recordings heard on one of the first jukeboxes.

Tickets: $7 Members/$9 Non-Members
For Tickets Call: 973.971.3706. Advance registration required.

Sunday, May 15: Broadway and Beyond: The Music of Gershwin, 3:00-5:00PM

George Gershwin successfully moved with ease between popular and classical music, and Broadway and Hollywood. Come and immerse yourself in early 20th century Gershwin melodies as performed by the Ampico Reproducing Piano. Light refreshments will be served during Intermission.

Tickets: $15. Includes light refreshments.
For Tickets Call: 973.971.3706. Advance registration required. 

Thursday, September 15: Guinness Spotlight: Music in Time , 6:30-8:00PM

Musical clocks come in many forms from organ and string playing clocks to carillon-playing and automaton clocks. Join the Guinness staff as they display and demonstrate some of the musical timepieces from the collection.

Tickets: $7 Members/$9 Non-Members
For Tickets Call: 973.971.3706. Advance registration required.

Sunday, December 4: An Afternoon with Frederic Chopin, 3:00-5:00PM

One of the leading composers of the Romantic Era, experience the works of Chopin as performed by the Ampico Reproducing Piano. You will be enthralled with musical selections that include ballades, waltzes and nocturnes, preludes and etudes. Light refreshments will be served during Intermission.

Tickets: $15. Includes light refreshments.
For Tickets Call: 973.971.3706. Advance registration required.

The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection: A Life’s Work

The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection reflects the passion of its namesake for preserving and sharing the joys of antique mechanical musical instruments and automata. Murtogh D. Guinness (1913-2002) regarded the collection as his life’s work, and he persistently traveled the globe to search for the finest surviving instruments of their kind. He lived day-to-day with these devices, studying and refining for over 50 years what became a collection of 750 objects.

Virtually every category of mechanice musical instruments and automata from the late 16th century through the early 20th century is represented in the Murtogh D. Guinness collection, which was awarded to the Morris Museum in 2003. At the core are cylinder and disc music boxes. Made in Switzerland and France beginning in the late 18th century, cylinder music boxes stand as living documents of the arias, overtures and waltzes of the time. The disc music boxes of the late 19th century show a shift to a broader audience and to more popular music. In the 1890s, disc box production expanded from Germany to Switzerland and also to the United States, where New Jersey became the home of American music box production. The collection includes numerous instruments made in Jersey City, Rahway and Bradley Beach.

Like the mechanical musical instruments in the collection, the musical, French-made automata represent a broad array of styles. Snake charmers, magicians, singing birds, and other figures in the Murtogh D. Guinness collection showcase the talents of their makers and constitute one of the largest public holdings of automata in the United States.

Collection Highlights

Mysterious Melodies of Madama Butterfly

"Harmoniphone" Program Card

“Harmoniphone” Program Card

Discover the music box in the Morris Museum’s Guinness Collection that is deemed the Rosetta Stone for the origins of melodies in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Audio clips:

1 – Sinfa/Mo-li-hua 2 – Chum Chie Lin 3 – Poutzi/Banzi/Pantse

4 – Loe Tee Kun Stin 5 – Shanghai mody 6 – She pah moh/Shiba-mo

“Buffet Magique” or The Magic Cupboard  Automaton by G. Vichy/Triboulet, c.1900

Tightrope Dancer with Musicians Automaton by Phalibois or Cruchet, c.1875

“Floutiste”, Life-size Flute Player, Automaton by A. Théroude, c.1869-77

“Maid Dusting Portrait,” Automaton by Louis Renou, c.1900

“Clown Illusionist” or Clown Magician, Automaton by Phalibois, c.1895

“Méphistophélès”, Automaton, by Leopold Lambert, c.1886-1900

Poppers “REX” Orchestrion, by Popper & Co., c.1915

”Home Music Box,” Reed Organette, The Autophone Co., Ithaca, NY., 1908







Performing: “The Arkansas Traveler” (c.1847-50), attributed to Colonel Sanford C. Faulkner, Jose Tosso or Mose Case (?)

“Organocleide” Cylinder Musical Box, Moulinié, Geneva, Switzerland, c.1855







Performing “Guillaume Tell. Chorus” by G. Rossini (1824-29)

“Orchestrophone” Fairground Organ, Limonaire Frères, Paris, France, c.1914


Here’s the challenge: We have the accurate title,  “Echo de La Butte” (Scottisch), but can anyone tell us the composer & date? Email your answer to Collection Curator Michelle Marinelli at [email protected]

“Sublima Corona” Style 32, coin-operated Disc Musical Box, Regina Music Box Co., Rahway, New Jersey, c.1899

2005.18a-g -web

Performing: “Wedding Bells Rag” by Al B. Coney (1910)