AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting – Changing Attitudes Towards Musical Instrument Conservation in Russia

Laurence Libin gave an overview of his impressions of the current state of musical instrument conservation in Russia. He visited St. Petersburg numerous times in the past 15-years and his interactions with museum staff and his knowledge of the history of the region have allowed him to come to some conclusions about musical instrument conservation in Russia.

Musical instruments are made to function and create music, and he sets this function as a rationale for the continued use of the instruments which may lead to their destruction.

He also cites the philosophical doctrine of fatalism, applied to musical instruments, means that the instruments, like people, are resigned to their fate and conservation is a lost cause. There is very little funding in Russian museums and many museum staff hold second or third jobs to make ends meet.

Even with these setbacks, there is a growing interest in musical instrument conservation in Russia and there is respect amongst museum professionals at the craft of the conservator. The ICOM International Committee of Musical Instrument Museums and Collections is helpful at creating appreciation and standards for collections. The speaker was generally positive about the future of musical instrument conservation in Russia.