MIM Exhibit The Power of Music: Photographic Portraits of Americans and Their Musical Instruments 1860-1915 Opens This Weekend

Augustus Henry, African-American woman with guitar, Prescott , Arizona. Image reproduced from original Paris card, c. 1890s
​On Saturday, September 24, the Musical Instrument Museum is scheduled to open "Power of Music: Photographic Portraits of Americans and Their Musical Instruments 1860-1915."

Featuring portraits from the collection of Mark Lee Gardner, author, historian, and musician, the portraits capture remarkable images of Civil War-era soldiers, housewives, children, the rich, and the poor.

The images are captivating, not just for their ghostly calm and historical significance, but because of what they represent.

"In those days, you couldn't just have your film developed at Walgreens," says Erin Kozak, Media Relations Specialist at the MIM. "These instruments meant a lot to these people."

In addition to the stunning collection of images, the MIM staff has provided display instruments from the time period to accompany the photographs, including a reed organ, side flute, bones, cowbells, a period-specific Martin acoustic guitar, and more.



The MIM has special events planned for the weekend, including a Children's Workshop with curator Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout (Cowboys and Aliens) on Saturday, at 10 a.m., where the author and his musician colleague will instruct children how to play the bones and harmonica. The event is best for children ages 8-12, who must be accompanied by an adult, and starts at 10 a.m. Tickets are $10 per child.

Also on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Gardner and Rideout will host "The Music of the Old West." Tickets are free with museum admission.

On Sunday, September 25, Gardner and Rideout will host an illustrated lecture of the exhibit, with a musical performance. Seating is limited, and the lecture starts at 11 a.m.

Also on Sunday, the "Music of the Old West" program will run at 2:30 p.m.

The exhibit runs September, 24 through Thanksgiving Weekend, with more events occurring in October and November. See the MIM site for details.

"Twins" with banjo and wooden flute in Chicago, Illinois. Instead of actual twins, this is likely an example of early trick photography.

Hispanic man and woman banjo players. Likely a New Mexico couple, c. 1880s

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Location Info


Musical Instrument Museum Music Theater

4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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