The Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments — a leading institution that acquires, preserves and exhibits musical instruments from antiquity to the present — is one of many Yale museums currently closed to the public due to the pandemic. It will use the period of closure to develop its online presence and make plans for an extensive renovation.
In spring 2021, Timothy A. Steinert ’82 and his wife, Lixia Zhang, made a major gift donation to the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments that will now be used to improve its facilities and extend the scope of its operations.
“[Steinert’s] transformational gift will allow the Collection to considerably enhance its role as a teaching museum at the intersection of many constituencies within Yale, including the School of Music, Institute of Sacred Music, Department of Music and also other collections,” the Director of the Collection William Purvis said in an interview with Music at Yale, the School of Music alumni magazine. “The Collection has the extraordinary potential to serve as a meeting place for students and faculty — from across the university and many areas of scholarship — where they can work collaboratively on research and performance projects.”
According to the collection’s team, the endowment from Steinert has allowed them to plan for the long-term future. Right now, the staff is in the process of planning a major renovation of the building that will “bring this historic facility into the present.”
The renovated collection will enjoy expanded, climate-controlled exhibition areas for greater instrument display, as well as new facilities for educational gatherings and research. The team noted that both types of spaces will enable the collection “to expand its programming and outreach within Yale and also in the wider community.”
Once the renovation is complete, the collection will, for the first time, be fully accessible to the public. This work, in conjunction with pandemic conditions, will determine a date for its reopening.
Although no visitors have been able to come inside the building, operations inside the collection have remained largely unchanged in terms of taking care of the instruments. Along with continuing its regular work and planning for the renovation, the museum team has also been using the temporary closure to improve its virtual offerings.
“While the collection already has a fairly robust online presence, our staff is taking the opportunity afforded by the pandemic closure to develop the online database to a level of detail that will more closely align with the other museums at Yale,” the team said. “The tactile and aural experiences of visiting the collection are unmatched, however, and we look forward to a time when the collection can reopen for in-person research.”
While the museum closure due to the pandemic poses inconveniences to students and faculty, impeding their ability to conduct research and to explore the exhibit, the collection’s team remains optimistic and will work to utilize the time granted to further promote its mission on campus.
“Our role as a steward is typical of Yale’s role as a steward of numerous other collections, including the holdings of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale Center for British Art, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and Yale University Art Gallery,” Dean of Music Robert Blocker said to Music at Yale. “Part of Yale’s role as an international research and teaching university is to be custodians of important artifacts and knowledge.”
The Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments is located at 15 Hillhouse Ave.