Conservation and Restoration

Original historical instruments may, for various reasons, need care, maintenance or repair in a specialist workshop that has a special knowledge of the construction and function of this particular instrument type.

For musical instruments owned by public museums, these maintenance works are most often limited to interventions that secure the instruments against further damage and decay, and which ensure that the instrument e.g. can stand being shown in an exhibition. There are, however, no longer many museums that put their original instruments in such good condition that they can be played on. This is mainly due to the fact that the museums want to avoid that a restoration or repair should reduce the opportunities for later generations to study the original construction of the instrument, but also economic considerations come into play. Within the museum world, the word conservation is preferably used for the minimal interventions that are absolutely necessary to ensure the continued existence of the object. Any conservation must be followed up with a detailed report illustrated by photos describing what work has been done and what materials have been used.

The situation is different with original instruments in private ownership. Here, the owner most often wants interventions that can bring the instrument into playable condition, and which can then maintain it so that it can stand being played to a certain extent. Here one most often talks about restoration. A restoration thus takes place not only to preserve the physical object, but also to preserve or restore the instrument’s function, sound and appearance. A restoration should be carried out so as not to remove or alter original material as far as possible, and it should of course be carried out with requirements for a detailed restoration report that can follow the instrument in its future life.

In my workshop, I perform conservation and restoration of historical woodwind instruments and smaller organ instruments. The work is planned together with the customer and is performed according to the above principles.

Example 1.
Restoration of an oboe by Johan Selboe from around 1850, in private ownership.

Example 2.
Restoration of a barrel organ by Gebr. Bruder from around 1885, in private ownership.