The Delgado de Carvalho Instruments Museum was created in the end of the 19th Century, by the first director of the Music National Institute[1], composer and conductor Leopoldo Miguéz, (1850 – 1902), most likely inspired by the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM)[2] of the Brussels Music Conservatory[3], which Miguéz knew in a journey he made to Europe in 1895.

The first reference, not to the museum, but to the instruments existing in the Institute feature in Decree number 143 of 1890, cited by Almeida (1994-95, p. 87): “the library, the archive, the instruments, the furniture and all utensils belonging to the extinct conservatory, will now become property of the Music National Institute”. A few years later, in 1898, an official publication of the Ministry of Justice proves the existence of the Museum, organized as such.

“The Music National Institute has a very interesting and curious small museum; a regularly assembled acoustic cabinet, a small library, a 16 feet Wilhelm Sauer organ, a small study organ also by Wilhelm Sauer and instruments for an orchestra[…]” ( BRASIL, 1898, Apud, ALMEIDA, 1994, p. 87) .

The Museum, thus, was intended, according to the Music National Institute  of 1900, cited by Brandão (2013, p. 42), for the study of music history and musical organology. Its access was restricted, and admittance in the museum’s room was only allowed to students accompanied by teachers and yet with the director’s authorization.

The Museum initial collection was described in a handwritten inventory[4] by Leopoldo Miguéz, between the years of 1890-1895, consisting of 49 instruments from various nationalities – Syria, India, Morocco, Sudan, China, Mexico, United Sates and Brazil. Of these original items of the collection only 27 are now part of the present assembly. In 1905, an inventory was published, organized and classified by composer Joaquim Tomas Delgado de Carvalho (1872-1922), who took the responsibility over, as he states, for the “inspection of the instruments Museum, the acoustic Cabinet and the Library” (CARVALHO, 1905, p. 5). This inventory shows that the collection had grown considerably, counting thus, with 87 musical instruments, from traditional orchestra instruments – violins, violas, bassoons, oboes, Neapolitan mandolins – to instruments from diverse and distant cultures such as a gi-hin, Chinese string instrument; a darabuka, Egyptian origin drum and a dog-dog, a bamboo drum from Java. In addition to the instruments the museum possessed 54 miscellaneous items such as letters, notes, postcards and autographs.

Only half a century later, in the decade of the 1970’s, new inventories were elaborated, some of which were recently discovered in the Music’ School’s library, when the museum is, then, opened to the public, with its collection being exposed in glass displays on the main corridor of the Music School. In 2008, the museum was deactivated and the items were stored in the Library of the Music School (CARDOSO, 2008).[5]

In 2011, with the purpose of reorganizing the museum, safeguarding the instrument’s and other documental item’s preservation and making the collection available for the public, a Project for the Delgado de Carvalho Virtual Museum of Musical Instruments[6] was conceived, with two basic lines of action: the creation of a Virtual Museum of Musical Instruments and the organization and the guardianship of the collection of the Delgado de Carvalho Museum.



ALMEIDA, Afifi Craveiro. Museu Instrumental Delgado de Carvalho: breve notícia. Revista Brasileira de Música. Rio de Janeiro, n. 21, p. 87-94, 1994-95.

BRANDÃO, Dolores Castorino. Representação documentária de instrumentos musicais: contribuição para a organização do Museu Instrumental Delgado de Carvalho da Escola de Música da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 2013 (Monografia de Especialização). Arquivo Nacional – UFRJ.

BRASIL. Ministério da Justiça e Negócios Interiores. Instituto Nacional de Música. In: Notícia Histórica dos Serviços, Instituições e Estabelecimentos pertencentes a esta repartição.  Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1898, APUD, ALMEIDA, 1994, p. 87.

CARDOSO, André. A Escola de Música e suas coleções especiais. In Universidade e lugares de memória. Organizado por Antônio José Barbosa de Oliveira. Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ/FCC/SIBI, 2008, p. 203-220.

CARVALHO, Delgado de. O Museu Instrumental do Instituto Nacional de Música do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1905.


[1] The Music National Institute was created after the Republic was proclaimed, in 1889, deriving from the Music Conservatory, created in1848, in Rio de Janeiro, by Francisco Manoel da Silva (1795-1865). In 1937, the Institute is incorporated by Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University and begins to be called National School of Music.

[2] The Musée des Instruments de Musique (MIM) was inaugurated in February 1899 and is up to now one of the most important in the world. Available in: . Accessed in June 2012.

[3] Conservatoire royal de musique de Bruxelle.

[4] Discovered after the project’s beginning by the librarian Dolores Brandão.

[5] Delgado de Carvalho Museum.
Accessed on April 25th,  2011

[6] The Project was approved through the Public Announcement from FAPERJ – The State of Rio de Janeiro’s Support Fund of Arts Production and Promotion – 2011.