America’s Shrine to Music: National Music Museum

The art of making music requires genius, precision and passion. Founded in 1973, this landmark museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, includes more than 10,000 musical instruments from virtually all cultures and historical periods. Today, its holdings are rivaled only by institutions in such cultural centers as Berlin, Brussels, Paris, and Vienna. Featured are Stradivari and Amati violins; Saxophones by Sax, the inventor of the saxophone; American Civil War brass instruments; C.G. Conn instruments; a contemporary Gamelan; a Thai turned log drum; the Sargent Pepper Lonely Hearts Club horn; the Bill Clinton sax and more.
THE STRADIVARI
The museum has some of the best preserved and historically significant stringed instruments known to survive from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. But one name resonates with contemporary audiences more than any other — Stradivari.
THE SAXOPHONE: A EUROPEAN TREASURE
The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax, for French military bands. The Sax saxophones, some of the first he invented are considered treasures.
AN INDONESIAN GAMELAN
This gamelan is one of the most spectacular and popular objects in the museum. It is played by a group of musicians working together to weave an intricate rhythmic tapestry. In Indonesia, it’s the sound of royalty.
AMATI VIOLINS
Precious and rare violins made by Andrea Amati, the father of the modern violin, are on display at the museum. In Amati’s 16th century workshop he designed and built matched sets of violins, including this group, known as the “Amati Quartet.”
AN ORIGINAL TRIBUTE TO AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL
The limited edition Clinton saxophone was made as a tribute to the early years of the Bill Clinton presidency. Clinton called it, “the funkiest saxophone I’ve ever seen.”
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