Frequently Asked Questions

On this page, we will attempt to answer some of the most common questions that you might have about our Association, its goals, or other details regarding our mission. If you have other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Q: Is the RMS OLYMPIC STEINWAY ASSOCIATION a non-profit organisation?

A: Yes. Formally registered in Austria, the RMS OLYMPIC STEINWAY ASSOCIATION, a subsidiary of the ASSOCIATION FOR THE PRESERVATION AND MAINTENANCE OF HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT INSTRUMENTS, is legally registered in Austria as a non-profit organization (with certain tax deduction benefits available). Registry Number: ZVR-Zahl 1275064672.

Q: How is the Association handling expenses?

A: Although we are trying to keep the Association’s operational expenses to a minimum, there are always some associated with day-to-day operations of such an organisation. This includes ownership of our website domain names, web hosting, and fees that may be associated with fundraising (bank fees, renting physical locations for any potential in-person fundraisers), and the like. Another example is that some travel expenses for Board Members may also be incurred in conjunction with the operation of the Association, and would be covered. However, operating expenses for Board Members would not include personal incidentals or extravagances, such as computer equipment and the like.

As a legally-registered NPO, our organisation is required to take precautions about matters such as approval of expenses and regular audits. Our Association’s by-laws in these areas exceeds the minimum threshold required by Austrian law, and great care is being taken to ensure that donations are handled carefully.

Q: Is the RMS OLYMPIC STEINWAY ASSOCIATION affiliated with any other group or organisation?

A: No, nor will we ever be. Although we work hard to cultivate good relationships with many individuals and organisations in the Titanic community, we are not officially tied to them or beholden to them. Individual Board Members may be Members of various Titanic historical societies, and such societies or groups may even help us spread word about our cause. Yet our Association will always act independently, with the dual goals of 1) preserving a historic artefact with ties to Titanic, and 2) preserving a historical musical instrument.

Even the relationship between our Association and the finally-selected semi-permanent home for the piano moving forward would only indicate a close cooperative effort, and the realisation that they meet certain criteria for being able to give the instrument a safe and dignified location to house the instrument, rather than direct financial support for their organisation, and the like.

Q: What is the current condition of the piano?

A: We are informed that Olympic’s piano, Steinway 157550, has already received a full restoration by professionals, including refinishing, and we are informed that it is in excellent condition. As you can see from the recordings made of the piano available on our Media page, the piano looks and sounds beautiful.

To the best of our knowledge at this time, the piano will not need any significant restoration in the near future. Rather, it will need to be preserved and maintained at its optimum performance.

Q: If the Association’s mission is successful, who will own the piano?

A: It will be owned by the Association, controlled by the Board of Directors, rather than being owned by any individual Member of the Board. The Board, as well as voting Members of the Association, will have a say in the instrument’s preservation. Our goal is to preserve the piano moving forward, and it will always be with the purpose of ensuring that it is preserved for public education and enjoyment rather than disappearing into a private collection or location.

Q: If the Association is able to purchase the piano, where will it be located?

A: The Association has not at this time settled upon a final location for the piano. However, we have strict criteria for considering such locations moving forward. Some of the most important of these are as follows:

  1. the location chosen must offer the piano a stable and safe environment where risk of damage is minimal;
  2. the chosen location must also make the piano available for the public to enjoy, ideally in a dignified, educational, museum-style exhibit that is associated with Titanic’s history;
  3. the location would also agree to make the piano available for regular inspection by the Board, help coordinate schedules for public performances, and make the instrument available for regular maintenance such as tunings (which the Board would organize and pay for);
  4. the chosen location would also be willing to house the piano on a semi-permanent basis, subject to future decisions made by the Association about the piano’s future;
  5. to respect any potential moral or ethical objections from some in the Titanic community, including prospective donors, our Association has decided in advance that potential suitable locations will not be connected with salvage operations or the display of artefacts recovered through modern salvage operations.

Sadly, some of the better-known museums and organisations affiliated with Titanic’s history, which would thus have served as prime potential candidates, have up to this point shown no interest in the instrument.

Q: Will the selected location be permanent?

A: No. The selected location will rather be semi-permanent, and there is good reason for us to use this term. Our Association knows that most damage done to pianos happens during the stage of moving it from one location to another. No matter how careful piano movers are, the risk of damage is very high during any move. Furthermore, every piano experiences an adjustment period after any move, as it acclimates to a new environment, thus requiring extra care and maintenance even if the move itself goes without a hitch.

For these reasons, and others, our goal is to ensure that the piano changes locations a minimal number of times moving forward. It would not, for example, be included on a traveling exhibit that must change locations. However, the Association also knows that circumstances also change: if a location proves to be unsuitable, or does not live up to its pledge to provide the instrument with a safe home, or were to close, the Association would move quickly to find a new suitable location for the instrument.

At all times, ownership of the piano would remain with the Association, and our organisation would be in charge of care and maintenance. It would be considered a long-term loan for exhibit in its new semi-permanent location. Keeping the piano in one selected, semi-permanent location would thus help prevent unnecessary burden for either the Association or the location selected for semi-permanent display.

Q: Why not wait to raise the money until a suitable location is found?

A: Unfortunately, this is impossible. Because this piano is currently for sale, our Association must move with lightning-like swiftness to secure the piano’s ownership without delay.

This piano is a historic artefact that should be made available for the public to enjoy and be educated from. Many private collectors purchase Titanic memorabilia and the objects thereafter disappear from public view. As a prime example, this appears to have happened to another piano from Olympic, the Steinway Model B from the D Deck Reception Room, some years ago. Its current whereabouts remain unknown.

Our goal is to raise not only the funds to purchase the piano, but to then move it to a new, semi-permanent suitable location for display. If a semi-permanent location has not been found by the time the money has been raised, the purchase will proceed and the Association will work to find a safe temporary location for the instrument until its new semi-permanent home can be found.

Q: How would the new semi-permanent location benefit from displaying the instrument?

A: Naturally, there may be some benefits to the facility or organisation that houses the piano on a semi-permanent basis. For example: this may include being able to advertise that they are displaying an actual piano from Titanic’s sister ship, or the like; such photos or statements in print, online or via social media may draw extra visitors to their attraction. However, in all cases the piano’s ownership would remain with the Association and its placement would be considered ‘a long-term and conditional loan’. Even permission to use the piano in extraordinary fundraising events not organised by the Association would be subject to approval by the Association.

Q: Why is the Association’s stated purchase price goal lower than what I have seen elsewhere online?

A: We have a letter of understanding with the piano’s current owner, and a purchase price has been set for our organisation. It is important for us to put down a deposit on the piano as quickly as possible to help secure the time necessary to raise the remaining funds.

Q: Are there donor tiers? Can donors have a say in what happens to the piano?

A: Yes. Although donors are not required to take on any responsibilities in the matter, so-called ‘Ordinary Members’ of the Association, who pay annual Membership fees, would be able to actively engage in the Association’s business through regularly-scheduled virtual meetings that the Board will convene.

Q: Can I become an Honorary Member of the board?

A: The Board may selectively appoint individual Honorary Members based on their services to the Association, or their valuable expertise in a specific matter relating to accomplishing our objective. Becoming an Honorary Member of the Board is not, however, tied to the size of a monetary contribution, nor is it planned to extend this privilege to many individuals.

Q: If the Association’s attempt to purchase the piano is unsuccessful, where will the donated money go?

A: This is an important consideration, as it is possible that we do not raise the required funds, or that someone else purchases the piano before we are able to raise the purchase price. Although we feel that this possibility remains slim, it is best to plan for every eventuality.

Therefore, our Board of Directors has decided that if the purchase is unsuccessful, after paying off any expenses or debts that the Association owes, if there are remaining funds, they will be dispersed to another liner- or Titanic-related cause or causes of the Board’s choosing. The funds will not be divided among Board Members, or even to further our Board Members’ own historical research, as we feel that this would not only be self-serving, but would create a major conflict of interests.

In such an eventuality, to help ensure that our donors from all locations, walks of life, backgrounds, and even religious beliefs are respected, donations thus disbursed will not be given to any political or national party, nor to any charity organisation with a religious connection.

Q: After purchasing the piano, then what?

A: Our mission is not only to purchase and display the piano for the public to see, but to maintain the piano for future generations of Titanic and music-history enthusiasts to enjoy. This will require some expenses over time. For example, the move to its semi-permanent location alone will likely be expensive, totalling many thousands of dollars, pounds, or Euros; any subsequent moves would also incur expenses large and small.

Most people are unaware that pianos not only need a stable and safe environment, but also require regular maintenance. A minimum of two tunings per year are generally recommended by most piano technicians; often more are required. The piano will also need to be played regularly, since complex mechanical instruments such as pianos actually need to be used regularly by skilled musicians to maintain peak condition. This might require hiring skilled musicians to play the instrument regularly, or other options. In the foreseeable future, potential maintenance needs could include not only tunings but action regulation, new hammers, or the like.

Q: Who will maintain the instrument?

A: The Board of Directors will be solely responsible for determining such matters. A Member of the Board is not only a historian but has worked in the piano tuning, repair, and restoration business for many years, and will directly advise the Board on such matters.

As they are brought to our attention, further FAQs may be posted to this page. No statement on this page is intended to supercede our Association’s by-laws.