Featured Object

In each issue, the bimonthly DAR magazine, American Spirit, highlights an object from the DAR Museum collection in its "National Treasures" feature. These objects, often recent accessions or important pieces in the current exhibit, always have a story to tell about American history.

National Treasures

Making Beautiful Music

Though they are only for show, the gilt pipes on the front of this late 18th-century barrel organ suggest its purpose. Like a music box, music is played when a winding key triggers metal fingers that pluck a set of pins attached to a cylinder. Unlike a music box, however, the barrel organ’s sound is made from air passing through pipes at the back of the instrument. When the winding key is turned, bellows supply the air. The DAR Museum’s barrel organ has three interchangeable cylinders that play many popular tunes of its time, including polkas, minuets and waltzes.

Barrel organs were expensive when new and found only in public places like taverns or in wealthy households. This example is attributed to the London firm of Longman & Broderip, which was known for making unusual musical instruments.

American Spirit, Volume 140, No. 5, September/October 2006, Page 9
Photo by Mark Gulezian/QuickSilver

More National Treasures

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To the Rescue

Strange Brew

Tayloe Family Ties

Ornamental Trio

Reviving the Stone

A Record to Remember

Strong Set

Fashion Flashback

Let's Go Ride a Bike


Isn't It Romantic

A Rockin' Good Toy

The Mystery of Mother and Child

Keep Cool

Dress for the Ages

Historical Register

Banjo Time

Getting Warmer

Virginia Map Quest

Serve It Up

Greatest Toy on Earth

Dress for the Day

Boston Uncommon

A Teapot to Revere

Seats of Honor

Birthday Threads


Play On

Top Drawer

Burning Bright

Seated in Revolution

Something to Crow About

Sister Stitch

Tea Time

Capturing Cherubs

A Link to the Past

Brushes with Fame

Something Borrowed

Supper Is Served

Stately Seats

Heirloom High Chest

Forged From Fire

For Madame's Trousseau

Let It Out

Heavenly Harmonies

Priceless Pooch

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