Why collect keyboards?
During the 20th century, our musical habits changed through the breakthrough of mass media and the advent of electronic instruments and computers. When the “great piano death” swept the western world, all our piano and organ factories in Sweden were shut down from 1953-1987. No one observed what was happening. The Musikmuseet at the time was disinterested, and took no action to secure this cultural heritage. Schools, institutions and private individuals have taken many valuable historical and good, fully usable modern instruments to the landfill because of disinterest. Many have also been exported to Europe. Sweden is still being drained of a cultural heritage.
Piano as Cultural Heritage
With its many rare and unique instruments, and the national main collections of industrial memorabilia from our piano and organ factories, KH’s collections represent an important part of Swedish piano history, which is not covered by conventional museums. KH places special emphasis on securing prototype instruments and patented or odd constructions. We pay attention to craftsmanship/design, construction and sound as equally important values. Pianos and objects represent both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Both aspects are equally important and invite research and conferences, where KH has its place in international work.
Social Benefits of the Piano Museum
The collections are good for the tourism industry in Lövstabruk, and the rest of the county. Visitors often come from far away. Pedagogical and outreach activity in collaboration with schools is essential.
KH attracts musicians and researchers from all over the world. The collections are a knowledge-bank for pianists, organists and chamber musicians, which is also important for musical life in the area. The realisation is developing more and more that you have to choose pianos according to time, composer and the playing characteristics of the instruments, if you want to do the music justice and identify an “original sound”. KH is the only institution in Sweden that is such a sound resource for researchers and musicians. Selected pianos in KH are played in a curated series of concerts and documentary recordings.
The collections are encyclopedias and textbooks for instrument technicians, who need to inform themselves about mechanics and construction. Gävleborg county had significant resources of forest/wood and metals/iron (sawmills and mills), which belonged to the infrastructure of the piano and organ industry, and from these aspects is a natural base for research. It is part of our general industrial history and as such valuable to historians of technology nationally and internationally. It is important to prepare descriptive catalogs of the collections for publication on KH’s website. We also issue conventional publications.
Can one optimise the collections?
It is possible to thin out our collections, and it is also done. Collecting is a knowledge-building process over time. The view of models and constructions changes as our knowledge broadens and deepens. By checking the status of the collections against the experience gained in research and collection, it is possible to assess whether certain instruments can be relocated. Conversely, you can see if important pianos and instrument types are missing from the collections. We call that process “refining the collections”.