Two Reasons You Should Plan a Trip to The Schubert Club Museum

By Barry Kempton

Today’s blog post is written by our Museum Manager, Kate Cooper, about some exciting changes in our FREE Schubert Club Museum. The Museum is located on the 2nd floor of Landmark Center and is open everyday noon-4pm except Saturdays. 


One of the challenges and responsibilities of managing a museum is to keep exhibits fresh in order to encourage visitors to keep coming back.  The Schubert Club is so blessed by the generosity of Gilman Ordway who has contributed close to 100 extraordinary autographed letters from notable composers.  We are thrilled to share with the public another twelve of these intriguing manuscripts now on display in The Schubert Club Museum. 

It’s difficult to explain the exhilaration I feel each time these amazing documents of history are pulled from their safe storage, mounted and transferred to their display cases.  To see those words penned by and passed through the hands of these musical geniuses on stationery, some over 200 years old, stamped with insignia from hotels, businesses and historical landmarks gives me chills.  But even beyond that first glance, come the actual words which suddenly bring those documents alive!  The composers we studied in our music history books become humanized and we unite with their emotions of love, jealousy, fear, success, grief, joy just to name a few.  Also intriguing in many of these letters, is to sense some of their humility and wonder as they correspond in advance of what we know many years later became a huge success or accomplishment in their lives.  I hope everyone can take the opportunity in the days ahead to delve into these genuine and heartfelt correspondences from Beethoven, Stravinsky, Chopin, Brahms, Mahler and many more.

Moving on to the South gallery: Brass bands were an important part of the fabric of American society in the 1800’s.  19th century entertainment, particularly social dances often featured brass bands.   However this period was also marked by the Civil War bringing rise to military bands dominated by the brass family of instruments.  Again, blessed by numerous instrument donations by band-leader, Bill Kugler, The Schubert Club is thrilled to highlight a few brass instruments in our newest exhibit, Brass from the Past.  My personal favorite of the collection, is the often photographed, shining beauty – the 1852 Fiske Circular Dodworth Cornet (pictured above). This cornet is still playable, and it is believed there are only 3 of them known to still exist!  Visitors can not only see this unique instrument but also hear and see it demonstrated on video by guest curator, Lynn Erickson. Minnesota played an important role during this period boasting many local brass ensembles. Additionally, Minnesota’s own instrument “factory” operating close to the Twin Cities University campus, was established by Minneapolis Symphony’s principal trombonist, Ralph E. Kenny in 1907.  The exhibit will feature several Kenny instruments.  Our visitors can immerse themselves into this vibrant time through many beautiful and historical sounds and photos of the time.  Lastly, we are pleased to give our visitors a hands-on experience in this exhibit by allowing them to examine, touch and play real and found-sound instruments from the brass family.  It’s a great way to learn how brass instruments work and what makes them special. 

So come visit and experience more reasons why The Schubert Club Museum is so special!

Learn more about the Museum here.