Pittsburgh Curiosities: Bayernhof Museum
Our monthly look at oddities around the region.
In the 19,000-square-foot Bayernhof Museum, you’ll find a remarkable collection of antique, automatic music machines — player pianos, room-size music boxes and innumerable other tune-playing contraptions. Many are more than a century old, such as a machine that provided synchronized scores and sound effects for silent films. Some are the finest examples of their particular models remaining in the world. Yet, somehow, the house itself is even more interesting.
The creation of eccentric gaslamp magnate Charles B. Brown III, Bayernhof was built on a perch overlooking the Allegheny River in O’Hara Township from 1976-82. It was outfitted with then-cutting-edge technology that has also been immaculately preserved, making the house a riotous collision of ’80s gizmos, 19th-century music machines and an endless stream of ephemera and art from Brown’s beloved Bavaria. The museum is open for tours (by appointment — call 412-782-4231) every day, besides major holidays, for $10 per person — a bargain, considering the detail and surprise waiting for you on the nearly 3-hour tour through the house’s secret passageways, themed rooms and breathtaking views.
To preserve the surprises, don’t research the museum or poke around the website beforehand; in the hands of curator and frequent guide Jim Mousseau, the journey is one of delightful revelations around each corner. Trust us: You’ll be flabbergasted by the final room.
Hear it play⇓
O’Hara Township: 225 St. Charles Place