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 the particular instrument type.

For musical instruments owned by public museums, these repairs are most often limited to interventions that secure the instruments against further damage and decay and which will ensure that the instrument e.g. can tolerate being shown in an exhibition. However, there are not many museums left that restore their original instruments to such a 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 the work that has been done and which materials have been used.

The situation is different with original instruments in private ownership. Here, the owner most often requires interventions that can bring the instrument into a playable condition in order that it can endure 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. As far as possible, a restoration should be carried out so as to not remove or alter original material and, of course, it should 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.