Musical Wonder House – Wiscasset, Maine - Atlas Obscura
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Wiscasset, Maine

Musical Wonder House

An 18th-century home taken over by antique automatons and musical machines (Closed). 

Sorry, Musical Wonder House is permanently closed.

Unfortunately, as of March 2014 The Musical Wonder House has closed.

The Musical Wonder House of Wiscasset, Maine is indeed a wonder to behold. From perfect trill and warble of clockwork birds, to player pianos, to musical Swiss stereopticons, to towering coin-operated orchestral music machines complete with tiny spinning ballerinas, the Musical Wonder House seems to have it all.

Perhaps one of the most wonderful parts of this music box museum is simply the way it looks. Housed in a lovely 1852 “double-house” (a two-family house identical on both sides), eventually the center wall separating the twin sides was taken down and replaced by a stunning flying staircase, reuniting the two halves. The walls of the entrance hall alone are lined with music machines (come prepared with pocketfulls of quarters to try these machines in the hall). The museum is decorated with great care in the grandiose style of the 1800s, seeming to take its cues more from Vienna than the rustic style of the Maine coast. While each lavish room is jam packed with musical treasures, clockwork automatons and antique gramophones, there is one music box that stands out from the rest.

The Emerald Polyphon, made in 1898, is an impressive machine using 22-inch diameter discs and featuring 16 tuned orchestral bells playing in unison with 2 sonorous music combs. There are only 12 known examples of this stunning music box to exist in the world. The Emerald Polyphon is listed as the definitive music box in The Encyclopedia Britannica, and the Musical Wonder House is the only museum in the world where this model music box may be seen and heard.

Know Before You Go

FROM THE SOUTH:Take I-295 North to exit 28 (Brunswick), to Coastal Route 1 North through Bath into Wiscasset.Pass the "Welcome to Wiscasset" sign on your right.Turn right at the Citgo Gas onto Lee Street.Take your first left onto High Street.We are the fifth house on the left, 16-18 High Street, with a red sign, beautiful flowers and white benches.45 minutes north of Portland, Maine90 minutes north of Ogunquit, Maine120 minutes north of Boston, MassachusettsFROM THE NORTH:Take Coastal Route 1 South until you cross the long bridge into Wiscasset. After the bridge we are left turn number six - High Street (You will see a white church and a courthouse up on the hill).Turn left onto High Street, bearing left at the top.We are the second house on your right, 16-18 High Street, with a red sign, beautiful flowers and white benches.Sadly, the Musical Wonder House appears to now be closed.