What started out as a hobby of collecting and restoring antique phonographs has evolved into the Music Makers Museum, a carefully curated private collection of historical sound equipment on U.S. Route 50 east of Hillsboro, which celebrated its grand opening Sunday as part of the Highland County Historical Society’s annual Tour of Homes.
According to Rodney Pack, who, along with his wife, Charlotte Pack, curates the museum, he first became interested in collecting phonographs after restoring one and selling it. Using the profits from the sale, he purchased other phonographs and restored them. He and Charlotte traveled, “in a ’79 Ford van,” on back roads around the country, coming across, “little shops” from which they could add to their ever-expanding collection of pieces from, “America’s musical past.”
After amassing the artifacts, Rodney Pack said he became interested in knowing more about the history and chronology of the items. “I started researching them,” he explained, “and I found out they all went in an order, they went in a timeline.”
From there, the Packs decided to show off their collection at Greenfield History Day one year. Rodney Pack described the enthusiasm of one young visitor, “grabbing his father,” to bring him to the presentation. “He wanted to show him the red machine,” Pack said.
Combining Charlotte Pack’s experience and training in exhibit writing, the Packs eventually assembled a comprehensive study of recording history spanning from about 1840 to 2000.
Rodney Pack says the museum has already received recognition from out of state, noting, “The website was up, and in a matter of one day we had people come in from Wisconsin.”
Rodney Pack stressed the importance of keeping knowledge of old recording devices relevant to new generations. “This is what people had in their homes,” he said. “This is what people listened to. It was part of their lives.”
The Music Makers Museum will be open again during the Festival of the Bells, slated for July 4-6, other scheduled events throughout the year, and accommodated by special appointment. More information about the museum can be accessed at www.musicmakersmuseum.com or by calling 937-763-1864, or by email at [email protected].
Juliane Cartaino is a correspondant for The Times-Gazette.