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Museum and Collection Services has at its core a mission of service to the world of the musically curious. By fostering good will and cooperation among musical instrument professionals, amateurs, and the casually interested, the total body of knowledge is enhanced to the betterment of all.

A Musical Instrument Union Catalog

We have a vision to create a union catalog of musical instrument collections. By using existing standards1 of documentation and classification, open source technologies, and open user licensing2, researchers (or anyone, really) may find examples of instrument types, makers, ages, materials, and technologies in museums and collections around the world. By performing database searches and sorts using unique criteria, novel connections might be made that would not otherwise be possible.

Additionally, as an open source technology, this resource can be developed as an information management database for collection administrators, and cataloging/data entry could optionally be managed by us as a third-party service by subscription or per-unit fee. We are actively seeking, partners, grants and sponsors to make this vision a reality. We would very much like to hear from collection administrators as to whether or not you think this would be a useful tool.

Customer Service

How often do you get email, phone calls and visits from someone wanting to know if Uncle Frank's fiddle is a genuine Guarneri del Gesu, or some similar issue? (and its previous incarnation, routinely gets around 1000 unique visits a day from people seeking information about musical instruments. This is proof positive of the need for accessible information, and especially for accessible professionals. Our correspondents are often intimidated at the prospect of approaching a museum curator or other academic professional, or are otherwise unaware of how to go about making inquiries of them. In some cases, they are rebuffed by "serious" institutions because their question is not relevant to the collection or is outside the scope of their specific expertise. welcomes all visitors into the world of organology as you would welcome a friend or neighbor. Almost every correspondent has a story to tell, and we explicitly ask them to tell it. This makes their questions more interesting , both to us as researchers and to our site users, and it makes our correspondents feel that they have been heard. This is in many case the most valuable part of our service. Our most gratifying moments are when a parent makes a donation on behalf of their child because we had dealt with them in a respectful and helpful manner.

We have a large collection of annotated web resources, as well as original research resources specifically aimed at answering the most common questions from the general public. We treat visitors with respect and try to provide valuable service, no matter how trivial or mundane the question. By refering your inquiries to, you can be assured that your correspondents will be treated well, which will in turn reflect well on your institution.

1. "Cataloguing Standards for Instrument Collections," by Arnold Myers, University of Edinburgh, CIMCIM

"CIMENT: Uniform Procedures for Data Element Description in CIMCIM Database Systems," by Cary Karp, et al., 1991, CIMCIM

2. Open Source Initiative
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