Availibility of historic musical instruments for research.Jeannine Lambrechts-Douillez
Musical instruments have always fascinated and were approached for different reasons by so many people depending on their own point of interest ignoring the intrinsic values of the instruments. As collector's items they very often were acquired for their similarity to fine furniture or as a decorative item in an adequate surrounding. Very often the proper sound producing device was discarded and replaced by being adapted to changing tastes and needs of one strong personality or in certain communities as music schools, churches, orchestral ensembles. Some "unplayable" instruments were discarded and together with unnecessary files found shelter in the basements or attics of the institutions whereas the more decorated items were sold and joined mostly private collections.
After world war II people became aware of the dangerous situations caused by belligerent activities in a growing interest for certain collectors items. By creating certain institutions and associations measures were stimulating the protection of our cultural heritage. A more professional approach was suggested aiming at the conservation of the objects and protecting them from further decay. These measures were first applied to collections of paintings and sculptures in museums of fine arts. Archeology and decorative arts followed but musical instruments whose ultimate aim was to bring sound were treated amateurishly for a long time.
In the beginning meetings were organized and restricted to museum directors; scholars, technicians of several disciplines, musicians were not accepted. This paper will give a survey of the different initiatives on an international level that promoted a scholarly approach leading to a better knowledge of how to protect this musical heritage and enhance a better understanding of music, musical instrument technology stimulating performances and techniques of instrument makers.