V & E Simonetti Historic Tuba Collection – Durham, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura
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V & E Simonetti Historic Tuba Collection

The humble horn finally finds a place in the sun. 


Vincent Simonetti began his tuba collection when he was touring with the Moyseev Ballet Company as their resident tubist. While in Boston, he came across a 1910 Cerveny helicon and knew he couldn’t leave it behind.

In the 50 odd years since, Vincent and his wife Ethel have continued collecting tubas. In spring of 2016, the Simonettis put their collection of nearly 300 horns on display for the public to see in a little yellow North Carolina house.

The museum features a range of instruments in the tuba family. There are saxhorns, ophicleides, euphoniums, sousaphones, and of course, tubas. Lots of tubas, each one unique. The museum tracks the history of the tuba, from its invention circa 1830 all the way up to the present day.

Though practically every surface in the house is covered in brass instruments, this is only a portion of the Simonettis’ collection. The rest was left behind when Vincent parted ways with The Tuba Exchange. Still, though, this collection is nothing if not impressive. For those who can’t make the trip to Durham, the Simonettis’ website includes a comprehensive catalogue of all their historic tubas.

Know Before You Go

Collection hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. by appointment only. To make an appointment, contact Vince Simonetti 24 hours in advance by email at vsimonetti@nc.rr.com

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