Musical instrument collection plans for a major renovation


Yale News

The Morris Steinert Musical Instrument Collection – a leading institution that acquires, preserves and exhibits musical instruments from antiquity to the present day – is one of several museums at Yale currently closed to the public due to the pandemic. He will take advantage of the closing period to develop his online presence and plan an in-depth renovation.

In the spring of 2021, Timothy A. Steinert ’82 and his wife, Lixia Zhang, made a major gift to the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments which will now be used to improve its facilities and expand the reach of its operations.

“[Steinert’s] transformational gift will allow the Collection to significantly strengthen its role as a teaching museum at the intersection of many Yale constituencies, including the School of Music, Institute of Sacred Music, Department of Music and also others collections,” Collections director William Purvis said in an interview with Music at Yale, the School of Music alumni magazine. “The Collection has the extraordinary potential to serve as a meeting place for students and faculty – from across the university and from many research fields – where they can work collaboratively on research and performance projects.”

According to the collection team, Steinert’s endowment allowed them to plan for the long-term future. Currently, staff are planning a major renovation to the building that will “bring this historic facility into the present.”

The renovated collection will benefit from expanded and air-conditioned exhibition areas for greater display of instruments, as well as new facilities for educational gatherings and research. The team noted that both types of spaces will allow the collection “to expand its programming and reach within Yale and also in the wider community.”

Once the renovation is complete, the collection will, for the first time, be fully accessible to the public. This work, combined with the pandemic conditions, will determine a date for its reopening.

Although no visitors were able to enter the interior of the building, operations inside the collection remained largely unchanged in terms of instrument maintenance. In addition to continuing their regular work and planning the renovation, the museum team also took advantage of the temporary closure to improve their virtual offerings.

“While the collection already has a fairly strong online presence, our staff are taking the opportunity presented by the pandemic shutdown to expand the online database to a level of detail that will more closely align with other Yale museums,” the team said. “The tactile and auditory experiences of visiting the collection are unmatched, however, and we look forward to when the collection can reopen for in-person research.”

While the museum’s closure due to the pandemic poses inconvenience to students and faculty, hampering their ability to conduct research and explore the exhibit, the collection team remains optimistic and will endeavor to use the time given to further promote its mission on campus.

“Our role as steward is typical of Yale’s role as steward of many other collections, including holdings of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale Center for British Art, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Yale University Art Gallery.” Dean of Music Robert Blocker told Music at Yale. “Part of Yale’s role as an international research and teaching university is to be custodians of important artifacts and knowledge.”

The Morris Steinert Musical Instrument Collection is located at 15 Hillhouse Ave.