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Water leak damages Chautauqua Institution pipe organ

Olivia Sun/The Chautauquan Daily

With gleaming ivory keyboards and a polished cherry wood finish, the beloved Massey Memorial Organ has been a trademark of the Chautauqua Institution experience for generations. But during a recent routine inspection, staff discovered water damage to the historic organ.

The culprit? Melting snow that leaked onto the console.

The organ’s pipework and internal systems remained undamaged, but its keyboards will need some work. Chautauqua Institution Vice President of Marketing Emily Morris says repairs are underway.

“They disassembled the console and removed the keyboards. Those are being sent to an expert facility where they will be restored and returned to us,” Morris said.

The console itself, including the state-of-the-art computers and electronics it houses, will be evaluated and serviced by the Fischer Organ Company, which led the organ’s restoration process in the 1990s and has maintained the instrument ever since.

The cost of the repairs is unknown, but it will likely be covered through insurance and the Chautauqua Institution’s capital maintenance budget. In the meantime, the Institution is working to keep the community updated on its progress.

“Given the importance of this instrument to our Chautauqua community, we wanted to tell them about it and let them know were working on it. We're going to keep them informed as we move through the spring months and as we move into the season because we know they care about it. And we care that they care,” Morris said.

The organ is scheduled to become operational again by the end of June, though temporary adjustments can be made, should the process take longer. Updates on the repair can be found here.