Project Piano Scuppered by Thieves

After just a few days, this art project was almost one piano down.

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An art installation that has placed 15 pianos around Cambridge’s streets has been struck by thieves just days after it launched.

The piano, part of the Festival of Ideas, was dragged across Midsummer Common last night then abandoned after its wheels came off.

Undeterred, organisers of ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’, are fixing up the piano and putting it back.

Go on, have a tinker.

The concept – putting pianos in public parks, streets and green spaces for any member of the public to play – was created by artist Luke Jerram in 2008 in Birmingham and has since been taken around the globe to a total of 38 cities.

Ruth Hardie, music outreach officer at Cambridge University, said: “We have picked up the piano and will be repairing it and replacing the tarpaulin that covered it. These pianos are for everybody to enjoy.”

However, reaction to the pianos has not been universally favourable. Students from Sidney Sussex complained after a piano outside their rooms, supposedly locked at night, was being played in the early hours of the morning.

As this picture shows, the ‘locking’ system doesn’t actually prevent the piano from being played.


A student demonstrates how a ‘locked’ piano can still be played.

Artists, charities and organisations have decorated the pianos using the Festival of Ideas’ theme, Dreams and Nightmares. The stolen piano was painted by FLACK, a city charity for the homeless.

The pianos come courtesy of Cambridge University’s Faculty of Music with some rescued from the scrapheap to be transformed into pieces of art. Others have been salvaged and brought to the university by Butler Smith Specialist Removals while others have been donated by Miller’s Music, in Sussex Street.

A map showing the locations of all 15 pianos is available here.