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Instrument or object? The New Zealand piano on display

The piano is rather a unique display item in the museum or the historic house. Firstly, whether an upright or a grand, the piano is an imposing, substantial object that occupies significant space within a setting and immediately demands attention because of its proportions. This object has a history, a story to tell that, where the provenance of the piano is known, provides a direct, tangible link with the past. Secondly, the piano is an aesthetic object, finely crafted and giving pleasure to the eye through the grain of the wood, the sheen of the polish, the black and white chessboard of the keyboard, the intricacy of the carved legs or marquetry inlay, the elegance of its shape and design. Finally, it is a musical instrument designed to produce sound and thus has the potential to delight the ear as well as the eye. Indeed, sight and sound are not the only senses to be satisfied by the instrument. The musty perfume of old wood and the sharp tang of lacquer entice the nose, while the satin wood and cool ivory keys please the fingers. It is through touch, the interplay between the body and the instrument, with hands on the keys and feet on the pedals, that a piano is given voice
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Moffat, K. (2011). Instrument or Object? The New Zealand Piano on Display New Zealand Journal of Public History, 1(1), pp. 5-25.
University of Waikato
This article has been published in the journal: The New Zealand Journal Of Public History . Used with permission.