P I A N O   3 0 0
Celebrating Three Centuries of People and Pianos


The Exhibition: Pianos for Everyone

Atwood Piano Loader on the back of a Ford Runabout, Iowa, 1920s

Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Archives Center, NMAH


A piano for every home became the goal of the expanding piano trade in the second half of the 19th century. Hundreds of companies, large and small, assembled inexpensive pianos from ready-made parts and sold them on installment plans, through aggressive salesmen, and in mail-order catalogs. Still important among the affluent, new or used pianos became accessible to large numbers of Americans.

As pianos spread so did music trades, including merchants, publishers, and technicians. Piano dealers sold sheet music and other instruments and piano technicians kept pianos in condition. The piano teaching profession flourished in homes, schools, and conservatories and gave women one of their few means of earning money.

Sally Dessez practices under her aunt's supervision. Washington, D.C. 1943

Photograph by Esther Bubly.
U.S. Office of War Information Collection
Library of Congress


In the Beginning

Across Europe and Beyond

Pianos In the Home

Romantic Superstars


Americans Take the Lead

Pianos for Everyone

New Communities, New Voices

Circling the Globe


[Introduction] [Performances, Tours and More] [Exhibition] [Timeline]
[Credits] [Donors and Collaborators ] [Play Some Music!] [Piano Resources]

Piano 300
American History
National Museum of American History