Our Quest for a Player Piano

Our upcoming Late Night on Friday, April 20, will celebrate our exhibition Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties. As we were planning for this event, we learned that Chilton Gallery I would be empty during this time, as staff prepares the space for a new installation, so we inquired about using it for one of our programs. Once we got the green light, we immediately thought: Speakeasy!

The Speakeasy will feature 1920s-inspired cocktails and live music, with an area where visitors can “cut a rug.” But we also wanted to have music playing in-between the live acts, and what speakeasy would be complete without a player piano!

We believed the easiest thing to do would be to rent one from a local piano company, but after placing a few calls we found that they didn’t have any “older-looking” player pianos, and even if they did, it would cost a lot of money to rent one for a night. We thought we were out of luck until one of the companies suggested that it would be cheaper if we just bought one online.

Surprisingly (to us at least), there were quite a few to choose from.

Welcome to Carrollton

After examining all of the listings for pianos for sale we picked our favorite four. We heard back from a couple who was selling a Rubenstein player piano that fit the feel of the 1920s. So we headed to Carrollton to take a look, make sure the player part did indeed work, and check out the instrument’s overall condition.

Checking out the inner workings of the piano.

A box of music rolls for the player piano.

Once we agreed to buy the piano we then had to work out transport to the Museum. After a few more calls, and the brief thought of moving it ourselves with a U-Haul, we ended up working with Piano Movers of Texas.

Bringing the piano into the Museum via our loading dock.

Two weeks after beginning our quest for a player piano we finally have one on-site, where it is waiting in our auditorium greenroom for its move next Friday to the Speakeasy.

Stop by during the Late Night and take a look at the newest addition to the DMA piano family, which also includes a 9-foot Steinway Concert Grand piano and a 6-foot Yamaha G Series Baby Grand white piano.

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services.
Denise Helbing is Manager of Partner Programs.

4 Responses to “Our Quest for a Player Piano”


  1. 1 Jim Arnold April 12, 2012 at 12:23 am

    I am looking forward to seeing and hearing this player piano in the Chilton I Speakeasy. I have a cousin that had a Player Piano in my teen years and every year at Christmas it was a favorite playing those QRS rolls.

  2. 2 Christine D'Emidio and Dale Maddox April 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    We have a pianola player piano ,very old, needs repairs, but it’s for 200.00 once restored it’s value is 5000. Let me know, it’s in Euless, TX 703-869-1400

    • 3 mengleman April 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      Thank you for your offer–one player piano is about all we can handle here at the Museum. ;-) Perhaps others reading this post will be inspired to purchase of their own!

  3. 4 whittakersue April 20, 2012 at 3:10 am

    My quest has been far from easy. I would read about how it’s “impossible” to become a concert pianist unless you start playing by age six at the latest.


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