Newly Renovated Musical Instruments Gallery Opens Friday at The Met

The Met

Redesigned Gallery 681 Includes Concert Space with High-Tech Recording and Sound System

The third and final phase of the nearly three-year project to renovate and reinterpret The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments is now complete and the newest gallery will reopen to the public on February 15. Begun in February 2016, the first and second phases were completed and opened to the public in July 2017 and March 2018.  The newly renovated gallery, Mapping the Art of Music (gallery 681), includes over 250 musical instruments of various types—drums, strings, winds, keyboards, and more—dating from 200 B.C.E. to the present day, augmented by works from other Museum departments, including seven paintings, an imperial jade chime and scepter, and an Indonesian shadow puppet.The gallery also now includes an intimate concert space with a 7-by-25-foot stage and state-of-the-art recording and sound system that allows performances to be transmitted to the Museum’s main auditorium and beyond in the highest quality. Enhancing the gallery-viewing experience are two media kiosks featuring narratives on the Triangular Trade route and Silk Road as well as some 40 new Audio Guide stops.      

“Organized around the theme The Art of Music and punctuated with objects from across the Museum’s encyclopedic collection, the galleries present a new perspective on the interwoven world of music, art, innovation, and society,” said Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, Associate Curator of The Met’s Department of Musical Instruments, who oversaw the renovation project. “ The reinterpretation of the galleries is a marked departure from typical displays of musical instruments that focus on typology and technical development.” 

Part of the overarching Art of Music narrative of the André Mertens Galleries, the theme of gallery 681—Mapping the Art of Music—explores the impact of geography, trade, migration, and travel on shaping music and the instruments used to play it. Displays focus on the development of regional styles, methods of transmission, and the ways in which musical instruments were adapted and assimilated. The intersections of instruments and cultures along conduits such as the Silk Road and Triangular Trade route are illustrated.

Highlights among the works on view in gallery 681 include a gilded 17th-century Italian harpsichord dramatically designed by Michele Todini; a 19th-century sesando (Indonesia), which is among the most visually striking string instruments in Oceania; the 19th-century bala (xylophone; West Africa), featuring tone modifiers made of membrane from a spider’s egg case; the 19th-century odaiko (drum; Japan), made for the Vienna Exposition of 1873, the first in which Japan participated formally as a nation; a 20th-century five-string tanbūr (Iran), played by the renowned musician Ostad Elahi; and a 19th-century qin (China) made of wood, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, silk, and jade.

Exhibition Credits

The renovation and reinterpretation of the André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instrumentswas overseen by Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, Associate Curator in the Department of Musical Instruments, working with a team of curators from the department—Jayson Kerr Dobney, Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge in the Department of Musical Instruments; Ken Moore, Curator Emeritus; and Tim Caster, Principal Technician. Conservation and instrument preparation are by Manu Frederickx, Jennifer Schnitker, and others in the Museum’s Department of Objects Conservation. Design is by Daniel Kershaw, Exhibition Design Manager; Chelsea Amato, Senior Graphic Designer; and other members of the Museum’s Design department; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, both Lighting Design Managers, and Amy Nelson, Lighting Designer.

About The Met’s Department of Musical Instruments

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to one of the world’s most diverse and important collections of musical instruments. With over 5,000 examples from six continents, it is unsurpassed in its scope and includes instruments from nearly all cultures and eras. The André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments consists of five rooms: two large-size galleries—Mapping the Art of Music (gallery 681) and The Art of Music through Time (gallery 684)—and three smaller-size galleries—Fanfare (gallery 680), Instruments in Focus (gallery 682), and The Organ Loft (gallery 683).  For more information about the department, click here.



Download The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine in App StoreDownload The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine in Google play