Engaging guests in the Mechanical Music Gallery

Craig Wilson was a MIM member for two years before he started volunteering in March 2023. His wife, Mary, joined him a few months later, and they enjoy volunteering together at the museum.

“MIM is a singularly special place,” Craig says. “The depth and breadth of the collection is a wonderful aspect.”

Craig is one of the many incredible volunteer team members who lead demonstrations of the Decap orchestrion, MIM’s largest instrument. The spectacular dance organ—which weighs two tons and is 25 feet long—is featured in the Mechanical Music Gallery, where guests can hear the instrument play a variety of tunes. Originally built in 1926, the orchestrion has 101 keys and 680 metal and wood organ pipes, and it was reconditioned in 1950 by the Belgian company Gebroeders Decap.

“I had never heard of the instrument before coming to MIM, and now I love it,” Craig says. “Playing the orchestrion immediately augments the guest experience when the instrument blasts out tunes. Kids wiggle and adults tap their feet and sway with the sound.”

Before beginning each demonstration, Craig shares context and fun facts about the orchestrion; afterward, he answers guests’ questions.

“Kids respond best to seeing the machine play by itself,” Craig says. “It’s magic to them—and to me.”

Volunteer team member Craig Wilson helps bring the largest instrument in MIM’s collection to life!

Enjoy live demonstrations of the orchestrion every day at noon and 3 p.m.