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Keyboard Instrument Policies

Guidelines for Playing of Restored Keyboard Instruments

Historical artifacts in the keeping of an educational institution represent an important resource for study and appreciation. Musical instruments in particular present a problematic curatorial challenge in the museum environment, in that they are not only objects of interest in themselves, but can also be highly desirable vehicles for the performance of music in a historical context.

Whether for research or performance, the playing of any musical instrument in the care of a museum poses a challenge to the conservation of the instrument. To begin with, even the “restoration” of an old instrument to playing condition may represent a serious compromise to its optimal conservation. The playing of restored instruments by qualified faculty, staff, students, and visiting researchers for brief periods during lectures, tours, or private examination, presents minimal challenges to their preservation; their use in extended performances, and especially in rehearsals, presents more serious concerns. From the curatorial perspective, maintaining a proper balance between justified limited use and ideal conservation in perpetuity is paramount and is the basis for the following policies.

  1. Firm limits for the time allotted for the playing of restored instruments will be established at the time appointments for playing sessions are confirmed. It should be clearly understood by all concerned that these limits are binding and are not to be extended.
  2. Players agree to refrain from moving, tuning, making any adjustment to the mechanism, opening or closing lids, or to applying or removing music desks or keyboard covers without the assistance of a museum staff member. A museum staff member must be in the room where the instrument is used for the duration of the encounter.
  3. Backpacks, suitcases, instrument cases must not be taken into the second floor gallery. No objects should ever be placed on any of the instruments in the gallery. Absolutely no food or drink is to be allowed in any of the museum’s galleries.
  4. Any audio or video recordings or photographs made in the Collection are for personal use only and may not be duplicated for distribution or otherwise disseminated without the written permission of the Director.
  5.  The person wishing to make an appointment to play keyboard instruments in the Collection should submit the Request for Playing of Restored Keyboard Instruments at least two weeks prior to the desired date of the playing session.


A list of the restored keyboard instruments follows below. 

Restored Keyboard Instruments in the Collection

Accession No.     Instrument

3190                     Chamber Organ, Johann Snetzler, Lojndon, 1742

4944                     Clavichord, Anon. German, mid 17th c.

4954                     Clavichord, Dolmetsch-Chickering, Boston, 1906

4892                     Spinetta, Fancesco Poggio, Florence, 1620

4878                     Harpsichord, Andreas Ruckers, Antwerp, 1640

4876                     Harpsichord, Francois Blanchet, Paris, ca. 1740

4875                     Epinette, Pascal Taskin, Paris, 1778

4879                     Harpsichord, J. A. Hass, Hamburg, 1760

4906                     Harpsichord, John Challis, New York, 1982

4895                     Harpsichord, William Hyman, New York, 1969

4971                      Grand Piano, Joh. Jakob Koennicke, Vienna, ca. 1795

4994                     Grand Piano, Ignaz Boesendorfer, Vienna, ca. 1830

4959                     Grand Piano, Broadwood & Sons, London, 1842

4990                     Square Piano, Alpheus Babcock, Boston, ca. 1820

4998                     Grand Piano, Erard Cie., Paris, 1881

4999                     Grand Piano, Ignace Pleyel, Paris, 1842

4978                     Grand Piano, Carl Bechstein, Berlin, 1864

4993                     Grand Piano, Steinway & Sons, New York, 1867