The Powerhouse Museum’s keyboard collection is one of the major strengths of the musical instruments collection. The instruments span a period of over 370 years from the Italian virginals made in 1629 through to the Stuart & Sons grand piano made in 1999 and the William Bright harpsichord of 2002.
The collection has developed significantly since the first keyboard, a square piano by Broadwood (H4011), was acquired by the Museum in 1937. Many important instruments in the collection have come through the generosity and knowledge of William Bradshaw (19 – 2009) whose eye for the rare and unusual instrument allowed the museum to builds up the collection as it stands today. This has also been supplemented by other significant donations from individuals including a comprehensive collection of player pianos and organs donated by Barclay Wright in 2006, once part of the Mastertouch Piano Roll Company Collection.
Although the collection predominantly follows and English making tradition there are instruments from France, Germany, Sweden, the USA, Japan and Australia. Keyboards represented include pianos, pipe organs, reed organs and harmoniums, plucked keyboards and electric and electronic keyboards and synthesizers.
Highlights of the collection include the oldest musical instrument in the collection - the Italian virginals of 1629 (85/372), a Zumpe & Buntebart square piano from 1773 (H9480) and an early bookcase upright grand piano by Stodart made in 1809 (2010/42/1). Electronic instruments that belonged to contemporary composers such as Don Banks and Tristram Cary are also included as are leading designers and makers of electronic instruments such as Tony Furse, Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogle and the Fairlight CMI.
Australian made keyboards are also a very important part of the collection and range from the earliest known piano to be made in Australia by John Benham of Sydney dating from about 1835 (H8405) through a variety of other 19th century makers to the great Australian piano manufacturers of Beale and Wertheim. Contemporary makers are also represented again including Ron Sharp, Fairlight, Stuart & Sons and William Bright.
By appointment only
United Kingdom; Australia; Germany; France; Japan; United States of America; Sweden