Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-4289

Instrumental Stories

Instrumental Stories

February 17 - October 27, 2018


Instrumental Stories Traveling Exhibit - Talk and Opening Reception

Saturday, January 26

1:00-3:00 pm 

1:00 talk at the Massena Public Library, to be followed by a tour and reception at the Celine G. Philibert Memorial Cultural Centre & Museum



In February 2018, TAUNY opened an exhibition of regional instruments, from improvised, home-made examples to the work of master craftspeople who supply many others in their communities. The exhibition, curated by TAUNY’s Director of Research and Programs, includes exploration of the context in which these instruments are used throughout Northern New York. The exhibit occupies the large street-level gallery in The TAUNY Center and will remain on display through October 27, 2018.


The exhibition features new and heirloom instruments made and/or used in Northern New York; their histories; the craftspeople and community members who make, play, and preserve them; and the social and spatial settings in which these activities take place. Instruments came from private collections as well as regional museums and historical societies.


Instrumental Stories presents the results of a 2017 research project surveying different ways people keep music, craft, and other community traditions alive through making and keeping musical instruments. Over 200 instruments―along with related objects and practices―have been documented through conversations with dozens of makers and keepers from all around northern New York. Research focused in depth on several subjects, while also finding additional representative examples throughout the region. The collection on display shows through selected examples the skill and creativity of North Country instrument makers and the depth and variety of meanings that North Country people carry, through their instruments, over generations.  


Geographically, the Instrumental Stories collection represents people and traditions ranging from throughout TAUNY’s 14-county North Country service region. It includes storied instruments showing the particularities of just one maker or ancestor as well as those that speak to broad trends in North Country religious, ethnic, and other community traditions. The display represents both past and present-day experience as well as looking forward to how such practices may continue into the next generation and beyond. The project sought to document instruments connecting to the region’s varied music traditions, as well as those that connect to non-musical North Country traditions through the ways they’re made and used.


To take a short virtual tour of the exhibit click here.


 Funding for this exhibit is provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, Folk and Traditional Arts

and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the

New York State Legislature.


Additional funding has been provided by The Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation.

Dedicated to improving the quality of life for year-round residents of the Adirondack Park.

Additional support from T. Urling and Mabel Walker.

Photo: Family banjo uke with homemade tailpiece. Photo courtesy of Dan Berggren.

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