Collection of Musical Instruments

Forms + FAQs

What's Here

Request a Tour or Appointment

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Use this form if you wish to meet with a curator to discuss an individual instrument or group of instruments in the museum’s collections, or if you would like to tour the Collection.

Rights + Reproduction Submission Form

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Numerous images of public-domain works in the Collection’s holdings are available for immediate download. Please complete this form to specify the desired image and its intended use.

 

Request for Close Examination Form

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Close Examination Guidelines

The Yale Collection of Musical Instruments makes its resources available to qualified researchers, including scholars, performers, instrument makers, students, and others. The following guidelines have been established to ensure the safe handling of the objects and efficient use of staff time.

  1. Prospective researchers should identify the objects they wish to examine by consulting the Circulating Collection Checklist of the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments and the museum’s website. The number of instruments should be limited to those that can be adequately examined in a four-hour session. Requests for longer periods of research must be submitted to a museum curator.

  1. The researcher should submit the online Request for Close Examination form at least two weeks prior to an intended visit to the Collection. This form is intended to establish the researcher’s credentials, define the purpose and extent of the examination, and establish the date and time of the appointment. At least one alternative to the preferred time and date should be provided in the request. Any additional person accompanying the researcher should be identified in the request; children are not permitted in the study areas of the museum.
  1. The object(s) requested for examination will be placed in a study area for the researcher. The researcher may handle the object(s) only under the supervision of a museum staff member and must use gloves if required. Measurements may be taken if such measurements are not already established in the museum documentation for the object(s), in which case the researcher must provide their own non-metallic measuring instruments.
  1. No instrument shall be played or disassembled without the express permission and presence of a member of the curatorial staff. Researchers are not permitted in the storage areas of the museum and cannot be granted free access to museum archives; selected objects and documents may be furnished on request. Exhibit cases will not be opened nor will instruments be moved during regular visiting hours.
  1. Researchers are permitted to photograph objects in the Collection for their own use. Intended use of a tripod or any special lighting brought by the researcher should be noted on the Request form.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the instruments played?

Many of the instruments in the Collection are maintained in playing condition. These instruments can be frequently heard in concerts, lectures, demonstrations, and on tour.

How much is my musical instrument worth?

For ethical reasons, museum staff members are not permitted to offer monetary valuations of personal instruments. Although much information on instrument values is available online, owners should be cautioned that only authorized appraisers are qualified to offer appraisals that will be widely accepted.

Is my violin a Stradivarius?

The authentication and valuation of string instruments requires the expertise of a qualified professional appraiser. Members of the public should be cautioned that many of the labels found inside string instruments are not genuine indicators of the instrument’s age or maker.

Does the Collection offer instruments for rent?

The museum's instruments do not circulate. However, the Collection does maintain a separate Circulating Collection comprised largely of replicas that is available for use at no charge by faculty and students enrolled at the School of Music or Yale University.

Do musical instruments improve with age?

While certain instruments (notably those of the violin family) have long maintained or increased their standing in the marketplace, musical instruments, like any tool, wear out over time. Aside from bowed string instruments, most professional players prefer the best modern instruments, including replicas of older style instruments.

May I bring my class or club group to visit the Collection?

Group tours may be arranged by appointment. Groups of fewer than 10 people may visit during public visiting hours. Non-Yale groups will be charged a fee for guided tours.