From the late 1800s to around 1920, music was a popular form of home entertainment. Before the advent of radio, film, and TV, it was a status symbol for a household to own a piano, whether or not anyone could play it. It was a common practice to display beautifully illustrated, colorful sheet music on the piano rack as part of the home décor. Music publishers soon realized a huge share of the market was interested in the covers and they hired leading artists to create colorful illustrations for the covers of sheet music. These soon were considered art forms worthy of display.
Covers depicting bison are relatively rare, but sheet music collector Yvonne McDonald assembled a collection of these pieces and graciously donated them to the Museum. We are pleased to showcase them, along with some recordings of the songs they document.