About us

/ About us


               

The Methodological Center of Documentation, Conservation and Restoration of Musical Instruments (MCMI) was established on 1 January 2016. The MCMI is an independent department of the National Museum, and it operates thanks to financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.

The MCMI was founded to address the unsatisfactory state of care and preservation of musical instruments as a specific category of tangible cultural heritage in the Czech Republic. Musical instruments are the subject of research of a specialised sub-discipline of musicology – organology. The examination and evaluation of instruments requires an expert methodological approach. This is also true of the principles for their care, conservation, and restoration, and of their rules of handling.

The aim of the project

The aim of the project is to ensure the expert handling of musical instruments in Czech collections, using three basic approaches:

  • formulate expert methodologies for the documentation, conservation, and restoration of musical instruments
  • provide consultations in the given field
  • process specific collections

To process collections means to furnish them with expert documentation, to assess their condition, and to propose suitable conservational or restorative intervention. The creation of methodological manuals will result in a unified and scientifically correct concept of how to process collections of musical instruments in the Czech Republic.

The concept

The concept of the MCMI draws in part from experience with other methodological centers in the Czech Republic, but its methodological aspect mainly builds on the universal standards of CIMCIM, that is, the International Committee of Museums and Collections of Instruments and Music, and on the international MIMO project (Musical Instrument Museums online).

The scope of the project includes all types of musical instruments, primarily items from the traditional instrumentarium of European music culture, secondarily also instruments of European folk culture. Instruments of non-European music cultures, which are rare in Czech collections, will be addressed separately as they require a specific approach both to documentation and to conservation and restoration.

The great diversity of historical and artistic value of historical musical instruments necessitates dividing the items in scope into three categories (listed below) and conceptualising the manner in which they are processed accordingly:

  • Category A: instruments of global cultural and historical importance
  • Category B: instruments of national cultural and historical importance
  • Category C: instruments of general historical importance

 

Key activities

The aim of the project includes a range of specialised activities, which are present in all three of the basic approaches:

  • the expert processing of musical instruments in Czech collections
  • advice and consultancy regarding the documentation, conservation, and restoration of musical instruments
  • the conservation and restoration of musical instruments
  • the provision of independent expert assessments regarding documentation/ conservation/ restoration (including the determination of the correct system for managing collections of musical instruments and the assessment of climate and lighting conditions or chemical influences)
  • the creation of specific methodological manuals for the documentation, conservation, and restoration of musical instruments
  • the creation of auxiliary tools for the documentation of musical instruments (database of instruments/ database of instrument makers accessible via the MCMI website)
  • cooperation with other methodological centers and specialised institutions in the Czech Republic and abroad
  • building the library of expert literature available to the public and the digital library accessible via the MCMI website
  • educational services and promotion (consultations, seminars, conferences, website)

 

Project timeline and implementation

The project’s concept was updated in 2020 following an evaluation of the first phase of its implementation: MCMI Concept Update 2021–2025.

2021

  • implement pilot methodologies and methodological instructions for the sample selection of end users
  • optimise pilot methodologies and methodological instructions according to the requirements of end users
  • create new universally conceived methodologies
  • final phase of the documentation of musical instruments National Heritage Institute sites
  • hold an MCMI conference and publish its proceedings
  • promote the MCMI at conferences of other organisations
  • organise educational activities for university students
  • conduct research and scientific work on MCMI databases
  • provide information services (website)
  • conduct restoration and conservation work according to current demand
  • provide advice and consultancy work according to current demand

2020

  • advice and consultancy
  • ongoing processing of select collections of musical instruments
  • ongoing formulation of methodologies
  • completion of the first phase of the database of instrument makers (see Methodology of Database of Instrument Makers)
  • conference (21 October 2020)
  • educational services and promotion (website)

2019

  • advice and consultancy
  • ongoing processing of select collections of musical instruments
  • ongoing work on processing the database of instrument makers
  • promotion (website)

2018

  • advice and consultancy
  • ongoing processing of select collections of musical instruments
  • promotion (seminar on “Caring for Musical Instruments”, 20 November 2018, programme; Bitljan, Adam: Presenting the Activities of the Methodological Center + poster)
  • participation in seminars and conferences:
    • Preventive Care for Historical Musical Instruments in the Movable Property of Castles and Palaces (conference), National Heritage Institute, Litomyšl, 18 April 2018 (Kůs, František – Bitljan, Adam: Basic Principles of Care for Musical Instruments and Examples of Conservation of Historical Instruments)
    • Methodological Centers of Museums of Technology or Natural Science within the Ministry of Culture and Opportunities for Mutual Cooperation (conference), National Technical Museum, Prague, 19 October 2018 (Bitljan, Adam: Basic Principles of the Documentation, Conservation, and Restoration of Musical Instruments)
    • The Early Pedal Harp as a Museum Artefact (conference), Deutsches Museum, Munich, 29–30 November 2018 (Kotašová, Daniela: Harp Collection in the Czech Museum of Music Prague; Kotašová, Daniela: conference report, Galpin Society Newsletter 53, February 2019, pp. 12–14)
  • ongoing work on processing the database of instrument makers

2017

  • advice and consultancy
  • ongoing processing of select collections of musical instruments
  • ongoing work on digitalising the database of instrument makers
  • refurbishing of the so-called Mozart Piano for a recording and a loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (preparing the instrument and minor restorative intervention – Adam Bitljan, reconditioning – Petr Šefl, performer – Vojtěch Spurný, video)
  • promotion (Kůs, František: lecture series – HAMU, Prague)

2016

  • basic research of historical musical instruments in Czech collections
  • ongoing processing of select collections of musical instruments
  • promotion (website)
  • participation in seminars and conferences: · “Joining MIMO” (seminar), Warsaw, 5–8 April 2016
  • An Introduction to the History and Technology of Wooden Musical Instruments (seminar), Amsterdam, 12–15 April 2016
  • Wood Anatomy Applied to Musical Instruments (seminar), Ringve Museum, Trondheim, 18–20 April 2016
  • Making Wooden Musical Instruments: An Integration of Different Forms of Knowledge (conference), Barcelona, 7–9 September 2016 (Bitljan, Adam: presentation of the MCMI project, poster)
  • advice and consultancy

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