Welcome to the Music House Museum

An architect and an engineer walk into a dairy barn…
While this may sound like the beginning of an old joke, this engineer and architect were walking into the dairy barn of the century old Stiffler family farm just north of Traverse City, Michigan and it is how the Music House Museum got its start. These two men had a shared passion for finding and restoring automated musical instruments with the goal of preserving this important piece of musical history and the barn was filled with their restored lost treasures. They decided that it was time to create a more formal display to showcase their hobby in order to share it with friends and other enthusiast. From 1979 to 1982 they worked to refurbish the 1909 barn and the 1905 granary into a turn-of-the century showcase, including parlors, a general store and even a saloon.  After seeing this beautiful display, friends convinced them it should be opened to the public and in 1983 the Music House Museum was born. The granary also served as living quarters for the farm’s hired hands and was referred to as the ‘old house’. This is how the Museum got its name as the old house was now filled with music. Since opening its doors, the museum has thrilled more than 450,000 visitors with guided tours showcasing the beauty, craftsmanship, history and complexity of engineering of this collection. Most of our visitors walk away not only understanding but sharing in the passion of the museum’s founders. Over the years this one-of-kind collection has continued to grow and now features instruments from the late 18th century to the 1950’s, taking visitors on a walk through the history of automated music, from the earliest music boxes through the radio era. Our display is divided into a guided and a self-guided area. The tour begins with the docent led tour through our beautiful collection of automated instruments beginning with the 1899 Regina Corona Music Box, and moving through history, from music boxes to player pianos, nickelodeons and magnificent organs. Each instrument was painstakingly restored to its original playing condition using original materials. Guests not only learn about the history of the instruments, but hear many of them play; listening to the simplicity of the music boxes; being swept away by Gershwin playing Rhapsody In Blue on the 1925 Webber Duo-Art reproducing piano; experiencing a silent film short with accompaniment of the 1924 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ; marveling at the majestic sounds of the 18 ft. tall, 32 ft. wide 1922 Mortier Dance Hall Organ and so much more. The instruments are displayed in beautiful turn-of-the-century displays that represent the typical locations where the instruments would have originally been used. At the conclusion of the guided tour, guests are invited to browse the self-guided tour gallery with the museum’s fine collection of phonographs, jukeboxes and radios as well as the Miniature City. The original Miniature Traverse City was displayed summers from 1931 to the early 70’s in Traverse City’s Clinch Park and was donated to the Museum in 1991. Because of its poor condition only a few original buildings were repairable, so instead, local artisans began recreating the display. Approximately 21 buildings are now on display and the miniaturists continue to work on recreating the rest of the Model City. Guests also enjoy the Museum’s Gift Shop that is filled with musical themed items. The Museum hosts numerous concerts and events throughout the season including our Silent Film Series, School Days Program and much more. In addition it serves as the perfect backdrop for weddings, receptions, business meetings and parties and is available for rental from May through December.

Trip Advisor Rating:

Visitors love the Music House Museum and have given us some great reviews:
“A gem in Northern Michigan!”

Music House Museum Board of Directors

  • Dorothy Clore – Executive Director/Board President
  • Bruce Ahlich – Board Vice-President
  • Sally Lewis – Board Treasure
  • Ellie Holdsworth – Board Secretary
  • Cynthia Ciaravino
  • James Cox
  • Robert Jackson
  • Patte Richards
  • Ruth Stow
  • James Warner

Music House Museum Staff

  • Kelly Roberts-Curtis - Director of Marketing and Development
  • AJ Morley - Director of Operations
  • Patte Richards - Tours and Events Manager