Tucked away in the northwest corner of Connecticut, just a few miles from the Massachusetts border, stands the New England Accordion Connection and Museum Company. The museum houses over 600 accordions, thousands of pages of sheet music, and a jukebox filled with hours of accordion music.
Its owner, Angelo Paul Ramunni, started playing the accordion at 10-years-old while growing up on Long Island.
“My mother came to me, that fateful day, she came to me and said your father and I want you to learn to play the accordion,” Ramunni reminisced. “I looked at her, I remember it vividly, and I said mom, anything but that, anything but that. And she said no, we want you to learn how to play the accordion.”
He played for years but put the instrument away when he went to Fairfield University and didn’t play for over 40 years. Until 2008, when he suddenly had the urge to play the accordion again.
He opened the museum a few years later, in October of 2011. “We had about 100 accordions and it just started," he said. "We found more of them as we moved along and people brought them in. We have a phenomenon going on here, where people just donate them because they want to see them go to a place where somebody would get some use out of them.”
Ramunni said people have trouble not smiling when they’re in the Museum: “Nobody comes in here -- even if they don’t want to be here, because a spouse or friend dragged them along -- they smile," he said. "They giggle, they just shake their heads but everybody’s laughing, smiling. There are no political differences, no religious differences, we’re just all of a sudden having fun together. We make friends inside of minutes, and they’re all strangers. So yes, we’re all smiling. You have to smile, it’s the accordion!”