Directory of Collections

The vast musical instrument heritage of the UK is preserved in collections ranging from National museums to remote country mansions. During the early stages of MINIM-UK we are co-ordinating research into collections across the country, which is vital to ascertain where exactly we can gather information about musical instruments.

Although collection directories already exist, the last major publication on UK institutions was in 1990. The preparation of a new edition of Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments also stimulated the development of the Sigla for Musical Instrument Collections.1

These and other sources have proved valuable to develop a new directory: the Museum Association lists music collections in its own registry.2,3,4. Resources such as local authority websites, directories of military, ethnography, and social history collections, and listings of national heritage trusts have helped ensure a wide scope of institutions are researched.5. Additional thanks are due to the project Steering Group and to Prof Arnold Myers for comments and corrections, and for important information about individual collections.

One of the fascinating and exciting aspects we find as the directory develops is how music and the development of musical instruments permeates throughout a wide range of collections and collection types, such as social history, decorative arts, design, military history, ethnography, religion, and beyond. When the project started, previously published directories pointed to around 100 collections existing in the UK. We know already that the actual figure is higher, at over 300.

A searchable Directory of Collections is now available, and will evolve as the project, and contact with individual institutions, develops.

The directory will remain accessible throughout the life of the project, and will be integrated into the musical instruments interface for the MINIM-UK public launch in October 2017.

  1. Myers, A. (2015). Sigla for Musical Instrument Collections. Available online at: ttp://
  2. Bevan, C. (1990). Musical Instrument Collections in the British Isles. Winchester: Piccolo Press.
  3. Jenkins, J. (1977). International Directory of Musical Instrument Collections. Buren: Frits Knuf.
  4. Museums Association. Find a Museum. Available online at:
  5. Mention should also be made of Hélène la Rue’s work on the National Musical Instrument Register and Database, and the premise and inspiration of Lyndesay Langwill’s Index, which was to list known museum and collection instruments by their creator.
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