Royal College of Music launches new database of musical instruments

MINIM-UK will make thousands of instruments digitally available for the very first time

Royal College of Music launches new database of musical instruments

The Royal College of Music has launched a brand new database of musical instruments. MINIM-UK brings together over 20,000 instruments from more than 200 UK collections, making them digitally available to the public for the first time.

Britain’s musical heritage is documented by thousands of instruments. Many of these reside in remote local collections, or linger in museum storage where they are inaccessible to the public. However, these instruments often relate to important historical events, people and places. They all tell the story of the diversity and richness of national and regional music traditions in British homes, churches, and theatres, as well as on streets and battlefields. Cataloguers working on the MINIM project have travelled over 10,000 miles for 180 days to collect photographs, sound recordings and stories of instrument collections everywhere from Aberdeen to Bournemouth. All of the information they have gathered is now freely available online.

The project makes available treasures such as the earliest guitar in the world and the earliest stringed keyboard instrument (both at the Royal College of Music), the largest collection of bagpipes in the UK (College of Piping and National Museum of Scotland), and an extremely rare narwhal-horn flute (Brighton Pavilion Museums). It also provides access to instruments that belonged to Charles II, Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, and to famous composers such as Edward Elgar and Frederic Chopin.

MINIM-UK is the largest national resource in the world to document the material history of our musical heritage. It covers nearly 5,000 years, providing a new resource to explore the links between human ingenuity and music. It also evidences the historical links between the UK and the rest of the world, through the nation’s rich collections of extra-European instruments gathered over 130 years.

MINIM-UK is a knowledge exchange project that has been led by the Royal College of Music, in partnership with the Horniman Museum and Gardens, Royal Academy of Music, University of Edinburgh and Google Arts and Culture. It was funded by HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England), and launched on the 30 October 2017.

You can explore the database here.

  • Article Type: | Blog |
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here