Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Virtual musical instrument museum launched

1:44, 30th October 2017

A virtual museum featuring sound, pictures and information about the some of the UK’s most important musical instruments is now live.

MINIM-UK allows members of the public to explore instruments from 200 separate collections across the UK in a single virtual location.

The website features information about instruments owned by Charles II, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, Elgar and Chopin, as well as the earliest known stringed keyboard instrument in the world (c. 1480), ancient Egyptian bone clappers in the form of human hands and an extremely rare narwhal-horn flute.

Many of the instruments featured have not been easily accessible to the public before, with a number of them hidden in local collections and remote locations, unseen in storage, or not previously documented online.

MINIM-UK brings together existing online resources with others which have been recently documented and digitised. Among the instruments whose sound is available online for the first time are the Habeneck Stradivarius violin from 1734 and the earliest known stringed keyboard instrument in the world, dating from ca. 1480.

The MINIM-UK project aims to promote visitors’ numbers to small local museums and draw attention to little-known collections within large museums. The project has been led by the Royal College of Music, in partnership with the Horniman Museum and Gardens, Royal Academy of Music, University of Edinburgh, and Google Arts and Culture, with funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Gabriele Rossi Rognoni, curator of the Royal College of Music Museum, described the instruments as ‘an important part of our national heritage’, adding: ‘It is tremendously exciting […] to enable so many people to connect with these beautiful and fascinating objects in a myriad of new ways.’


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