LSM Newswire

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Musical Instrument Museum Acquires Instrument Collection


Melissa Parsoff, Ruder Finn A&CC


The Musical Instrument Museum Acquires One of the Largest Instrument Collections in the United States

Renowned Collection from the Kenneth G. Fiske Museum

at The Claremont Colleges Features More Than 1,200 Musical Instruments

Phoenix, April 21, 2008 —The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) today announced that it will acquire a historically significant collection of musical instruments from Claremont University Consortium's Kenneth G. Fiske Museum at The Claremont Colleges in California. The first major acquisition to enter MIM's collection since the museum's groundbreaking ceremony in Phoenix in February 2008, the Fiske Collection includes more than 1,200 American, European and world instruments dating from the 17th through the 20th centuries.

The Fiske collection will greatly enhance the depth and breadth of MIM's collection, which will feature instruments from every country in the world. Many instruments joining the MIM collection have a special significance due to their fine construction, reputation of their makers, provenance or connection to famous performers. A large number of these newly acquired instruments will be on display in the museum's galleries when MIM opens in 2010.

"This is a landmark acquisition for MIM, and I want to thank Claremont University Consortium and Claremont Colleges for making this possible," said Bill DeWalt, MIM President and Director. "We are delighted that these beautiful and significant objects will join our permanent collection, enhancing MIM's commitment to showcase spectacular examples of our diverse musical heritage."

The Fiske Museum collection began with a brass collection purchased in 1954, and was on display at the Bridges Auditorium in Claremont from 1977-1997, and then open by appointment until 2006. The instruments also served as a teaching resource for the colleges' professors and students. In November 2006, the museum closed and since that time the collection has not been accessible to the general public.

"We are very excited for our collection to be acquired by MIM, the first truly global museum of its kind," said Robert Walton, Chief Executive Officer, Claremont University Consortium. "It is very important to Claremont Colleges that these instruments be available for the benefit and enjoyment of audiences from around the United States and beyond."

The Collection

Brass instruments represent the most comprehensive element of the Fiske Collection and the centerpiece is a set of seven over-the-shoulder brasses by Hall & Quinby of Boston (1872), the only known complete set of these types of Civil War-period instruments. The collection also features examples of most valve types invented during the 19th century and several outstanding examples by European and American makers are represented. Other highlights include 19th-century clock-spring slide trumpets by Ulyate, London (c. 1830); a slide trumpet made for the famous English player John Distin (c. 1833); a keyed trumpet by Antonio Apparuti, Modena (c. 1835), a rarity as the only example in the United States; an expertly designed disc valve cornet by J. A. Kohler, London (c. 1853); and two double-piston valve B-flat trumpets by Graves & Co., Worcester, Massachusetts (c. 1845).

The collection also includes several important examples of woodwind instruments from the 18th and 19th centuries, such as an extremely rare, curved English horn by August Grenser, Dresden (c. 1760); a finely preserved C clarinet by John Astor of London (c. 1785); a unique C clarinet by Naust of Paris (c. 1780); an oboe by Lehnhold of Dresden (c. 1800); a flute by F.G. A. Kirst of Potsdam (c. 1790); a beautifully-designed basset horn by Stengel (c. 1870); a unique prototype alto saxello by H. N. White, Cincinnati (c. 1925); and an early alto sax by Conn, Elkhart, Indiana (c. 1888).

String instruments in the collection include five 18th century violas d'amore, including a notable instrument by Johann Andreas Doerffel of Klingenthal (c. 1750). A fine treble viol by the noted maker Leandro Bisiach, Milan (c. 1895), is one of two known reproductions of a 16th century viol. Other notable string instruments include a rare mandolin by Joanies Vinnacia of Naples (1763); a mandora of the Presbler School in Milan (1785); and a hammer dulcimer (ca. 1877) by James A. MacKenzie of Minneapolis.

The keyboard collection includes one of the only surviving "semi-grand" pianos, and one of the earliest surviving American-made grand pianos, by Jonas Chickering, Boston (1850). Other keyboards of note are a Grand piano (ca. 1835) by Jean-Henri Pape of Paris with unique down-striking action, and a 3-manual, 5-octave reed organ [ca. 1889] by Mason & Hamlin of Boston.

The world instrument portion of the collection includes a large group of beautifully made and handsomely decorated Tibetan dung-chen (trumpets). Many traditional wind, string and percussion instruments from China, Japan, Africa, Indonesia and South America are an important part of the collection, as well, including a Magindanao kulintang (gong-chime ensemble) from the Philippines; several fine examples of suona (oboe) from China; 2 shofar (ram's horn) from Israel; an early 20th-century Spanish laud; and large, wooden side blown trumpets from central Africa.

About MIM

Scheduled to open in early 2010 in north Phoenix, The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) will celebrate the similarities and differences of the world's cultures as expressed through music—a language common to us all. Featuring musical instruments from every country in the world, MIM will pay homage to the history and diversity of instruments and introduce museum guests to their varied and unique sounds. MIM will be an engaging, entertaining and informative experience, in which the uninitiated and the knowledgeable, the young and the old will feel welcome.

MIM will exhibit approximately 3,000 instruments, from the exquisite heirlooms of royal courts to handcrafted pieces passed down through humble generations, from masterpieces crafted by skilled artisans for performances heard by millions to unique instruments produced for the enjoyment of individuals. Wireless headsets and high-resolution video screens will allow visitors to see these instruments, hear their sounds, and observe them being played in their original settings. Other areas of the museum will provide opportunities for visitors to play selected instruments and see how they are made.

About the Claremont University Consortium

Claremont University Consortium (CUC) is the central coordinating institution of The Claremont Colleges. As such, CUC provides common services for the internationally renowned cluster of two graduate and five undergraduate colleges serving more than 6,000 students. The consortium offers the expansive physical facilities and wide selection of courses, faculty, student services and extracurricular activities of a university, and the personalized education of small private colleges. The Consortium includes Pomona College (established in 1887), Claremont Graduate University (1925), Scripps College (1926), Claremont McKenna College (1946), Harvey Mudd College (1955), Pitzer College (1963), and the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Science (1997) and Claremont University Consortium (1925).

For more information about MIM, please visit

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