Yale Collection of Musical Instruments – New Haven, Connecticut - Atlas Obscura
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New Haven, Connecticut

Yale Collection of Musical Instruments

A quirky assortment of musical marvels from around the world. 

When was the last time you saw (or heard) a hurdy-gurdy, ratchet, sheng, lapa, helicon, erxian, czakan, or cor anglais? Head to the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, and you’ll find those intriguing instruments and more. The eclectic assortment of musical marvels introduces you to an ensemble of historic devices from around the world.

The offbeat collection is replete with a quirky assemblage of Western and non-Western instruments. It was established in 1900, after the university was gifted a collection of historic keyboards by Morris Steinert. Its stock has since expanded and now contains instruments spanning many different time periods and cultures.

The museum is built around a celebrated core collection of organs, clavichords, harpsichords, spinets, virginals, and pianos from the past three centuries. There are also gorgeous string instruments with looks that rival the beauty of their sounds, a piano small enough to play with your thumbs, colorful bells, and even instruments that date back more than 2,000 years.

Even the building that houses the collection is historic. The Romanesque structure was built in 1895 for a fraternity. The collection moved into the space in 1961. The facilities host the occasional concert, which you can attend—if you’re quick enough to snag a ticket.

Know Before You Go

Not open to the public on Saturday. Only open in the afternoon and never on University holidays or during August.