“This piano is part of our treasured collection of historical artifacts that tell the Motown story,” Robin Terry, the museum’s board chair, said. “We are thrilled to welcome it back home to Detroit, where it will be used to educate local students about the legendary history created in their hometown and share the Motown story for generations to come.
“We’re happy to see our baby come home,” she told the AP.
The piano was brought back to professional recording quality, Terry said, with all of its internal components — soundboard, keys, hammers, pins and strings — restored. The piano’s case was left as is to preserve its authenticity, while the legs, which were not original, were replaced. While the original strings and hammers were worn beyond repair, they were retained and are being returned to the museum for exhibit.
Despite its condition upon arrival at the Steinway facility in New York, Terry said technicians described it as “one of the finest instruments they have ever worked on.” One technician listened to it “and said, ‘This piano can stand up to any concert piano anywhere,’” she said.
While historical preservation remains a priority at the museum, Terry said the restored instrument won’t be off-limits all the time — at least to special guests like McCartney who know their way around the ivories — but will need a couple weeks of readjusting to its environment.
“One of the lessons that we were learned in this process is that instruments like that have to be played,” said Terry, Berry Gordy’s grand-niece. “Our approach to the piano prior to that was not to play it and to protect it and preserve it. The truth is … it’s built to be played.”