On Thursday 29th June 2017, the Mayor and the Aldermen for Finance and Culture, together with prof.dr. Giovanni di Stefano, curator for musical instruments of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and Adri van Straten, senior specialist for Sounding Heritage of the National Cultural Heritage Service, have performed the opening ceremony of the new venue in Zutphen of the Geelvinck Music Museum
. They unveiled the recently acquired square piano built by Erard Frères in 1788, which is thought to have belonged to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, who, after the French Revolution, was guillotined in 1793. This square piano was part of the collection of Gustave count de Reiset (1821-1905) and since by descent at the Château du Breuil-Benoit. It has been previously on view at the exhibition "Marie-Antoinette, Archiduchesse, Dauphine et Reine" at the Château de Versailles (1955).
The museums collection concerns, among other objects (porcelains, paintings, furniture), over 120 historic pianos and other early keyboards, including the Sweelinck Collection (formerly the collection of the Conservatory of Amsterdam). This is a working collection and, since a few years, it became the focus of the museums public presentation strategy.
Located in a mansion, which dates back to the 16th century, the new museum venue consists of period rooms and a small concert hall on the first floor, an exhibition on the second floor and an open depot on the third floor. Also on the third floor a small formerly Roman Catholic chapel (1628) is situated, once hidden away as the family who lived in the house remained true to the catholic denomination, while the city of Zutphen turned protestant. The impressive, classically ornamented front of the mansion, as well as its period rooms, refer to the late 18th century, when the count of Limburg Stirum of Bronckhorst briefly inhabited the house.
The concert hall (formerly a wine merchants warehouse) will be regularly used for concerts on the historic pianos, which are on permanent view here. These include a Zumpe & Buntebart square piano from 1769 (formerly Finchcocks Collection), a Pohlman square piano from 1770 (Sweelinck Collection) and a Heilmann fortepiano from ca. 1790 (formerly Colt Collection), as well as early and mid 19th century instruments.
Dutch early keyboards
The period rooms show the instruments in their historical context. These include one of the earliest known Amsterdam built square pianos (Meyer Brothers) and an Amsterdam built giraffe (Müller Brothers). The Sweelinck Collection is worldwide the most extensive collection of early pianos, which were built in the Netherlands.
The exhibition on the first floor leads the visitor through the development of the historic piano, while the narrative is mainly geared towards Beethoven. Zutphen is linked to this iconic figure, because after his death, a story appeared that he was actually born in this city in 1772. The instruments on view range from a Mahoon spinet from 1742 (formerly Finchcocks Collection) and an Ehlers fortegrand from ca. 1815 (formerly Boston Museum of Arts) to a Rippen piano of the sixties of last century. One of the features of the exhibition is, that the visitor is allowed to play on two of the instruments on view. The exhibition is aimed to satisfy both visitors without any knowledge of the history of music whatsoever (which most probably will be the majority of our audience), as well as the knowledgeable visitor interested in historic pianos.
Restoration in progress
The open depot on the third floor does not only show instruments, which are in dear need of repair, visitors can see the restorers in action. In the coming months, on-line in-dept information, audio and video will still be added to the exhibition. The museum is in the process of fully revising its website (an English version coming soon).
A first step
This exhibition, which has a so-called pop-up character due to the fact that it just uses of the existing museum facilities of the building as these were installed over thirty years ago, is a first step towards a long-term comprehensive format to permanently unlock the collection for the public. The building, in which formerly the Museum Henriëtte Polak was located, has been given on loan by the municipality to the Geelvinck Museum for a period of two years. Thereafter a significant renovation of this historic building is intended, depending on sponsorship and subsidies still being sought after. The planned time-schedule is to reopen the museum again in 2020, right in time for the celebrations of BTHVN 2020.
Geelvinck Music Museums
Besides our effort in Zutphen, the Geelvinck Museum has developed a public presentation strategy to unlock its collection both in Amsterdam and other locations around the country by placing historic instruments on loan. The instruments on loan are still being managed by the museum and it organises concert series on these locations, which are predominantly castles and historic houses. The Geelvinck Pianola Museum is a new public presentation, which Museum Geelvinck created together with the Pianola Museum (which vast collection includes about one hundred pianolas and over 30.000 pianola rolls). Together with the Amsterdam Museum, the museum continues also its Geelvinck Salon concert series in a grand canal mansion, the Museum Cromhouthuis. In addition, the Geelvinck Museum continues to work together with the Conservatorium of Amsterdam. Advised by the Rijksmuseums curator for musical instruments, and financially supported by the Mondriaan Fonds, Museum Geelvinck plans to implement MIMO starting next year. Moreover, the museum's annual festival, competition and symposium (next one is scheduled coming October), will gradually be moved to Zutphen, although some of the performances will also take place in Amsterdam and in historic places in the countryside. On 29th June he festival's art director, dr. Michael Tsalka, gave a concert performance on three different historic pianos as part of the festivities for the public opening of the new museum location in Zutphen.