Museum discovers massive cache of lost instruments

Museum discovers massive cache of lost instruments


norman lebrecht

July 27, 2011

The Cincinnati Art Museum has discovered 800 antique musical instruments in its basement. How wonderful.

Some are more than 400 years old. They have been lying there unnoticed for decades.

How on earth?

Museum director Aaron Betsky said there wasn’t enough room for them on the main floor. There had been plans to expand, but the money ran out and the museum laid off staff and everyone forgot about the instruments.

That, for me, is irresponsible curatorship. How can a museum lose a prize collection? Surely there must be an inventory or catalogue that someone scans from time to time. And if the museum is short of cash, shouldn’t be thinking of selling assets, like its historic instrument collection.

It’s a shocking story that needs a lot more scrutiny than it is getting.

Here are some of the objects.



  • Luk says:

    I can “discover” things that have been lying “unnoticed for decades” in my house too: my piano, my scores, my CDs. Come on. A cheap trick to get into the news.

    • Galen Johnson says:

      Maybe, but you think they’d come up with a ploy to get into the news that wouldn’t also make them look like morons.

  • Luk says:

    True, but I can imagine that they were so desperate in trying to imagine something better that this exposure was considered best and better than none. Who in the wider world knew of that museum? I didn’t, but now I do and when I am in that part of the world, I won’t forget to pay a visit to that wonderful collection. Perhaps whoever thought this story up is not a moron but a very good publicist. 🙂