Station: [1] General Information about the Museum

In the town of Lissberg in the German state of Hesse, between the castle and the church, stands the Lissberg Museum of Musical Instruments. More than 2,000 instruments – both originals and replicas – are on display in the former one-room school. They include the largest bagpipe and hurdy-gurdy collection in the world.

It’s all about the music! Hello and welcome to the Lissberg Museum of Musical Instruments, which has almost 100 square metres of exhibition space – equivalent to eleven hundred square feet. We’re delighted to present the largest hurdy-gurdy and bagpipe collection in the world – along with a wide range of other rare and quirky instruments.

Our little museum traces the development of musical instruments across four centuries: from the time of the composer and scholar Michael Praetorius, who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries, to the present day. One special feature of our collection is that almost all the roughly 2,000 instruments are playable. In fact, we’ll be playing some of them for you today. So you can look forward to hearing the unfamiliar sounds of some unusual instruments. In fact, you’ve already heard a 16th century piece by the Spanish composer Diego Ortiz – that was what we played to welcome you just now.

The museum first opened on the 8th of April, 1990 – the day when the Frankfurt instrument maker and collector Kurt Reichmann celebrated his 50th birthday. Most of the instruments you’ll see here today are from his collection.

In 1967, Kurt Reichmann built his first hurdy-gurdy based on a historical original. In 1973, he launched the first hurdy-gurdy festival, which was held annually next door at the Lissberg Castle until 2009. Musicians from all over the world attended and played dance music on their bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies.

In 1978, Kurt Reichmann received Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit in recognition of his revival of the hurdy-gurdy. Without instrument makers like him, we’d have no idea what musical instruments from earlier centuries sounded like.

Our collection is growing all the time. These days, our exhibition includes wind instruments from non-European cultures as well as an extensive collection of miniatures.

But take a look for yourself – you’ll discover a wealth of visual and auditory delights in the smallest of spaces.

All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch