Owner of Fire Damaged Ein Hod Music Box Museum Optimistic

45 years of gathering rare music boxes were damaged in the Carmel fire but the museum's undaunted American oleh owner is reopening.

David Lev, | updated: 08:05

Ein Hod, the Aftermath
Ein Hod, the Aftermath
A7 Hebrew

While the authorities add up the toll of the devastating Carmel fire and figure out how to compensate victims, there are some losses that can't be restored – like the damage of a unique museum in the Ein Hod artists colony, which contained a collection of music-making boxes and equipment that  took former American documentary maker, 75 year old Nisan Cohen, 45 years to gather.

Since the 1950s, Cohen has been collecting music boxes of all sizes, hurdy gurdies, hand-operated automatic and player pianos, early gramophones, and other music-making equipment. Among his treasures were a real nickolodeon that played music of the twenties and an authentic organ grinder's music wagon with a mechanical monkey on top.  The rare pieces, imported from around the world and from several stores Cohen operated in the U.S., were all on display at his Nisco Museum of Mechanical Music in Ein Hod – which was badly damaged in the Carmel blaze. “My house wasn't damaged,” Cohen told Israel National News Monday. “But the museum was.”

The pieces – well over 150 of them – were mostly manufactured in the U.S. and Britain, with the oldest items made before the turn of the 20th century. Thomas Edison's invention of the gramophone ended the popularity of music boxes, which were once the only way to bring music into the home without playing an insrrument..

A big draw for visitors to Ein Hod, who not only  admired the beautiful workmanship on many of the boxes and tried them out, but also learned how  they work--pins on various cylinders inside the boxes pluck the teeth of  combs to produce a melody-- the museum is now a shambles, Cohen says – but he plans to rebuild.

“We hope to be up and running again within several months,” Cohen says. “We've begun going over the pieces to see which ones are salvageable or repairable, and we plan on cleaning the ones that survived in the coming days.” After that, Cohen says, he plans to try and acquire more pieces, enabling him to rebuild in the coming months.

“Fortunately the museum had good friends who did not forsake us in our time of need,” Cohen says. Those friends are helping Cohen  - with material and other support – get the project going again. “We appreciate all the support we've received in the past few days,” Cohen said, with the optimism for which he is known, having printed original bumper stickers that say "Everything is everywhere" and "Don't postpone joy" that he sells in his museum shop.

“With some luck, we'll have the museum back up and running soon," he said.

Postscript: In 2012 Nisan Cohen contacted Arutz Sheva stating that The Nisco Museum of Mechanical Music reopened shortly after the fire. It currently contains music boxes, hurdy gurdies, an automatic organ, a reproducing player piano, a collection of 100 year old manivelles, gramophones, hand operated automatic pianos and many other antique musical instruments. Hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. For more information visit http://ein-hod.info/nisco/.