In 2020, MVIM assumes its mission as a “space of convergence of collections and knowledge”, adding collections of musical instruments that could not be brought together in the concrete world, such as those belonging to the Delgado de Carvalho Instrumental Museum, of the Villa-Lobos Museum and the Moreira Salles Institute.


The Delgado de Carvalho Instrumental Museum

The Delgado de Carvalho Instrumental Museum, the first and largest museum of musical instruments in Brazil, was created in the late 19th century by the first director of the National Institute of Music, the composer and conductor Leopoldo Miguéz (1850–1902), inspired by the musical instruments museums of the Conservatories of Music in Paris and Brussels, visited by Miguéz on a trip to Europe, in 1895.

According to the Regulations of the National Institute of Music of 1900, the Instrumental Museum was intended for the study of music history and musical organology. Access was restricted, and admission to the museum room was allowed only to students accompanied by teachers and with the authorization of the director.

The Museum’s initial collection was described in a handwritten inventory by Leopoldo Miguéz, between the years 1890-1895, in which there are 49 instruments of different nationalities – Syria, India, Morocco, Sudan, China, Mexico, United States and Brazil. Of these original items, only 27 are present in the current collection. In 1905, an inventory was published, organized and classified by the composer Joaquim Tomas Delgado de Carvalho (1872-1922), who assumed responsibility, as he states, for the “inspection of the instrumental Museum, Cabinet of Acoustics and Library” (CARVALHO, 1905, p. 5). This inventory shows that the collection grew considerably, counting, then, with 87 musical instruments, among the traditional orchestral instruments – violins, violas, bassoons, oboe, Neapolitan mandolins – even instruments of varied and distant cultures such as a gi-hin, instrument of Chinese strings; a darabuka, drum of Egyptian origin, and a dog-dog, bamboo drum from Java. In addition to the instruments, the museum had 54 different items such as letters, tickets, postcards and autographs.

Only half a century later, in the 1970s, new inventories were prepared, and, at that time, the museum was opened to the public, with its collection exposed in glass displays on the main corridor of the School of Music. In 2008, the museum was deactivated, and the items were stored in the Music School Library.

In 2011, with the purpose of reorganizing the museum, ensuring the preservation of instruments and other documentary items and making the collection available to the public, the Delgado de Carvalho Virtual Museum of Musical Instruments project was conceived with two basic lines of action: the creation of a Virtual Museum of Musical Instruments and the organization and storage of the Delgado de Carvalho Museum collection.



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

BALLESTE, Adriana Olinto; ALMEIDA, Alea. A restauração dos instrumentos musicais do Museu Instrumental Delgado de Carvalho. In: Simpósio de Práticas Interpretativas UFRJ/UFBA, 2014, 2014, Rio de Janeiro. Anais do I Simpósio de Práticas Interpretativas. Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ/UFBA, 2014. p. 211–218.


Villa-Lobos Museum

The Villa-Lobos Museum was founded the year after the death of composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, on June 13, 1960. It was conceived by his second wife, Arminda Neves d’Almeida – “Mindinha” – who guided it until her death, in 1985. Then, for just one year, pianist Sônia Maria Strutt took over as director, being succeeded by guitarist Turibio Santos, who was in charge of the Museum until 2010. Today the Museum is a management unit subordinated to the Brazilian Institute of Museums (Instituto Brasileiro de Museus – IBRAM).

From 1986, the Museum started to operate in a 19th century mansion in the Botafogo neighborhood, which has three multiple-use rooms that house exhibitions, video exhibitions, didactic concerts and small recitals; a structure with three technical reserves; a library open to the public; gardens and an acoustic shell that allows outdoor events.

The central mission of the Villa-Lobos Museum is to be a reference on the life and work of the composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. Its main activities range from the preservation of the collection to the development of cultural and educational projects, such as the edition of books and records, the holding of festivals, international contests and didactic concerts, in addition to assisting research.

Its extensive collection includes music scores, photographs, correspondence and textual documents, sound and audiovisual archives, concert programs, objects, books and musical instruments.

Among the musical instruments are the piano, the cello and the guitar of Villa-Lobos, in addition to several unique percussion instruments that were used in his compositions.

REFERENCE: Museu Villa-Lobos


Moreira Salles Institute

The Moreira Salles Institute – IMS has collections in four areas: Photography, Music, Literature and Iconography. In the conservation, organization and dissemination of this material, together with the IMS Photography Library in São Paulo and the Walther Moreira Salles Collection, the Institute seeks to fulfill its fundamental objective of promoting broader access to this heritage.

The Musical Technical Reserve of the Moreira Salles Institute, inaugurated in the early 2000s, has today in its custody collections that include documents by composers, instrumentalists, researchers and collectors. The set has a wide range of supports, including music scores, recordings, musical instruments, books, photographs, radio program records and interviews.

The musical instruments under the care of IMS – guitars, flutes, “cavaquinho”, mandolins, violin and a percussion instrument – belonged to important personalities of Brazilian music such as Pixinguinha, Baden Powell, Elizeth Cardoso, André Filho and José Ramos Tinhorão.

REFERENCE: Instituto Moreira Salles – IMS