300-year-old violin on loan to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

He popularized the assembly line, jumpstarted Detroit's auto industry and apparently loved the violin.

As one of the country's richest individuals when Ford's cars went mainstream, Henry Ford could indulge in his obsession of stringed music.

"Because he could afford the very best, he contacted a violin controssoi to show off some violins," said Jeanine Miller, the Henry Ford Museum Curator of domestic life. Ford purchased several Italian violins from the 17th and 18th centuries, including a 1703 Stradivari, known as a "Rougemont." 

The exquisite instrument is on loan to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. 

DSO associate concertmaster Kimberly Kennedy is bringing the historic violin to life at Orchestra Hall Feb. 21-22. 

Made during Stradivari's 'golden era,' Miller said the purchases were part of Ford's larger vision of preserving the past. Ironically, the man wasn't very good at playing the instrument. But for those that can play it: "It's incredibly magical to hear something made by one of the great masters in violin making."

If you can't make it to hear the violin in person, you can still check it out. It and several others are in the permanent collection of The Henry Ford in Dearborn. The loan of the "Rougemont" to the DSO marks a rare occasion during which one of the instruments will be played outside of The Henry Ford’s campus.

The violin concert is part of the DSO's three-week American Panorama winter music festival. You can get more information on that here