Requires Photography

Musical Instrument (thumb piano)

African, Central Africa
20th century
Artist Unidentified


Overall: 49 x 31 x 16 cm (19 5/16 x 12 3/16 x 6 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

wood, gourd, metal, fiber

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art, Musical Instruments


Musical instruments

Thumb pianos have been traditionally used throughout Africa and can now be found the world over. There is a great deal of variety amongst traditionally used lamellophones and the adjustable metal keys come in a variety of configurations. Modern-day kalimbas, which can be found globally, were popularized by Hugh Tracey, an ethnomusicologist that studied traditional African music. Unlike Tracey’s rectangular version, this one is affixed to a hollow gourd, which gives the notes more resonance.


Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart