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Museum of Music Automatons: Day trip for all ages

When I first came to Switzerland I organised a home school coop called ‘S H I N E’. On one of our field trips I took the kids to the Museum of Music Automatons in Seewen. The plan was for the children to make a musical box however due to a communication error plans changed, but in the end it turned out to be for the better. As a result we discovered the hidden gem in this museum. We were taken into a private room and before us stood the Britannic Organ.

Researchers at the museum are confident that they have discovered the long-lost organ of the Britannic – the sister ship of the ill-fated Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1912. The instrument, which is documented in drawings and a photograph, had been missing for nearly a century. It was unearthed during the restoration of the Welte philharmonic organ belonging to the Museum of Music Automatons.

Dr. Christoph E. Hänggi, Director of the Museum, explains: “The organ builders were cleaning three areas under the soundboard of the organ that are not normally accessible, and found three identical stamped marks reading “Britannic”. We’d actually always believed that our Welte philharmonic organ must have been made between 1912 and 1914, but we had no evidence of its history prior to 1920. Although the historical Welte catalogues in our academic archive contained a photograph of an organ in the stairway of the Britannic, we had never remotely considered that it could be our organ.”

The Museum allowed us to go behind the wall and view the actual mechanics of the organ and how it works. The children were also able to select a piece and listen to it play. My son David was given the privilege to play it and he chose to play “Ode to Joy”. Overall it was very exciting and incredible opportunity that myself and the children experienced.

The Museum of Musical Automatons is home to one of the biggest and most famous collections of musical boxes, jewellery, clocks, watches and other musical automatons. Your admission (CHF 15) also includes a guided tour and for an extra CHF 6 you can also included a 20 minute tour around the KlangKunst-Saal and the “Britannic Organ”. The Museum is located between Luzern and Basel making it just over an hour’s drive from Luzern by car, if you wish to go by public transport it will be about one hour and half.

While the children did not get to make a music box, they were able to buy small souvenirs from the gift shop to support a great cause and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day. This would be a great day out for both the kids and adults – having the guided tours definitely helps to makes the most of your trip.

This post was kindly contributed by Tina Bruderer for our community blogger feature.

(Photo’s are courtesy of the Museum of Musical Automatons)