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Letter to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

According Spotting Fun


A few years ago, I wrote about my visit to a special musical instrument exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art—which did not, at least then, include even one accordion. You might remember my good-natured letter of complaint, which you can read here. Sadly, I never even got a response from the museum.

However, I am happy to say that Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is an entirely different story. My friend Elaine Lundberg took me to the museum this weekend, and what a treat! I was soon overwhelmed by how much there is to see and how little time we had. Elaine, who lives in the area and has been to the museum countless times, soon turned the trip into an accordion-spotting visit.

My goodness, but she spotted a lot of accordions, from every part of the world, and every size, color, and style imaginable. There was even a whole accordion section as well as a whole polka area. I saw my first green accordion, a teensy piano accordion only slightly wider than my hand, an accordion with a foot pump for the bellows, and (in the Mechanical Music Gallery of instruments that “play themselves”) the room-sized “Appalonia” orchestrion, which is not an actual accordion but includes two of them.

The two-ton “Appalonia” fills a large room with the sound of a number of instruments, including accordions. As polka music filled the room during my visit, visitors flocked to the sound of this amazing instrument. See it and listen here.

The museum is fascinating, and not just because of the accordions. Most displays have videos of people performing with some of the instruments displayed, and I found myself transfixed (when not accordion spotting) by videos of African drummers, old bluegrass bands, Alice Cooper rocking out in the rock and roll section, and so much more. My only wish is that I’d had more time at this fascinating place. If you get a chance, go!

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