Bayernhof Museum, built on a hilltop overlooking the Allegheny River and much of Pittsburgh’s East End, was originally the home of Charles Brown III. Chuck loved all things Bavarian, and German, and inspired by Mad King Ludwig, built his own Neuschwanstein. Linda, Sonsee and I went there for a tour.
Chuck was a collector, most interestingly of automated musical instruments: player pianos, music boxes, band organs, bird boxes… He also collected Hummel figurines, kitchen equipment (mostly professional and expensive), liquor, the RCA dog Nipper, and lots of German kitsch. The entrance hall overwhelms you with German kitsch and every room seems to have it’s share.
Chuck also loved his great grandfather, who founded a bank in Pittsburgh in the nineteenth century. He commissioned this sculpture,
the body taken from a Bavarian miniature, the face from a portrait of great granddaddy. Our tour guide doubted whether gg ever wore lederhosen, probably wouldn’t have been caught dead in them.
Unlike many museums I’ve visited, I was invited to take pictures as soon as I walked in the door. So I snapped away using the flash, which I normally try to do without. However, there was no way to do justice to the overwhelming amount of stuff. It was hard to focus (my mind, not the camera) on single objects, even the big ones. And I was with a very small tour group, only five of us, and I didn’t want to delay the tour or make any kind of fuss. It wasn’t that important; I didn’t love it enough.
I’ve put together a new photo album with comments about some of the objects and some of my feelings about Chuck, based solely on the things he collected and what the tour guide said about him. There is surprisingly little to be found in print. Read an article about the museum here, and Chuck’s company with great grandfather on the logo, here.