European Field Travels Yield Exceptional Finds August 4, 2023 Extraordinary violins from celebrated makers among items joining MIM collection In late 2022 and early 2023, Matthew Zeller, PhD, MIM’s curator for Europe, traveled to six countries seeking authentic and exemplary instruments for MIM’s collection. During these trips, Zeller acquired several important instruments that will enhance the exhibits in MIM’s Europe Gallery—including a violin made by Andrea Amati, the “Father of the Violin.” Zeller’s European tour began with a violin conference in Italy. He then traveled to Vichy, France, for an auction, where he secured a striking Ulrich Ammann clarinet that resembles a tree branch. (It is now on display in the Switzerland exhibit.) In England, he secured more than a dozen instruments, including a pair of Hessian timpani decorated in hammered metalwork with the coat of arms of the German House of Hesse dynasty, and a flute by Theobald Boehm, a German composer and inventor who developed the key system found on nearly all modern flutes. MIM’s recently revised Switzerland exhibit, which now features a striking Ulrich Ammann clarinet (center) During the second leg of his travels, Zeller visited Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium before returning to England. At a private sale in London, he purchased a violin made by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, a central figure in the history of violin making. The violin, made in France in 1848 during Vuillaume’s middle period, was featured as MIM’s Acquisition of the Month in May. It is now on display in the France exhibit. While in London, Zeller got the opportunity to examine an Andrea Amati violin that would be up for auction later in the summer. After studying the instrument, Zeller confirmed that it was an authentic Amati and a rare example of the violin maker’s work from the 1560s. Three months later, after Zeller had returned, MIM won the instrument at auction. Amati defined the design of the violin that we recognize today, and makers around the world continue to model their work after his creations. The instrument will be the highlight of MIM’s collection of Cremonese violins. In addition to providing them the opportunity to collect instruments, field travels help curators nurture new and ongoing relationships. In Belgium, Zeller visited the Musical Instruments Museum at the center of Brussels. The museums’ curatorial staffs have been collaborating over the past several months and are excited about new opportunities, including an upcoming loan from MIM Brussels. “The leadership and curatorial staff at MIM Brussels welcomed me with open arms and palpable excitement at the prospect of collaborating with MIM Phoenix,” Zeller says. “We look forward to a long-term relationship between our museums.” Curator for Europe Matthew Zeller and the curatorial staff of the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels, Belgium.