The Mighty Wurlitzer: A History of the Theatre Organ - Atlas Obscura

Chicago, Illinois

The Mighty Wurlitzer: A History of the Theatre Organ

Join us for a rare demonstration of the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ at the Chicago Theatre as part of the 2019 Movie Palace Series.

The Mighty Wurlitzer at the Chicago Theatre is one of the most beloved theatre organs in the world. Built in 1921 for the grand opening of the Chicago, the instrument has remained in the building  since. With pipes ranging from half-a-foot to 32-feet long, it was originally a huge draw for the theatre, but as the popularity of movie palaces and pipe organs diminished over the decades, this very special instrument has been used less and less. Today, it's almost never played for the public—but this January, Atlas Obscura is proud to offer a special chance to hear and understand the story behind its music as part of the 2019 Movie Palace Series.

The event will start with a mini tour of the Chicago Theatre by Atlas Obscura Field Agent and theatre historian Leyla I. Royale. The tour will be followed by an in-depth examination of the Mighty Wurlitzer by pipe organ master Glenn Tallar, the resident organist at the Chicago Theatre and owner of GT Organ Associates.

The evening will finish out with a very special showing of a short silent film accompanied live on the Mighty Wurlitzer!

Join us as we treat our eyes and ears to an unusual and exclusive evening of history and sound.

Atlas Obscura Presents: the 2019 Movie Palace Series

Atlas Obscura is proud to explore the history of movie palaces and movie theatres in 2019 with a series of special events curated by Field Agent and movie palace historian Leyla Royale. These events will focus on the development of this uniquely American architectural form by exploring the companies behind them, learning how their formation has forever changed the entertainment business, and of course visiting several of these beautiful buildings.

Additional Details

  • Meet underneath the marquee of the Chicago Theatre at 10 minutes prior to start time. Leyla will welcome you into the theatre lobby at 6:30 pm.
  • All ages may join, though we suggest you be 15 years old and above.
  • Walking shoes are a good idea! There will be several staircases.
  • No weapons are allowed, and all registrants are subject to wanding and bag search by security.
  • The Chicago Theatre is ADA accessible, but certain parts of the building featured on the tour are only accessible via stairs, including backstage. If you have any questions regarding accessibility please email Leyla at
  • For those interested in taking pictures—yes, photography is allowed!
  • This ticket is not refundable, but you can transfer it by following this handy Eventbrite tutorial.


Email Leyla Royale at

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Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.