Working Groups (historical page)

Main working groups

When CIMCIM was founded the plenary meeting set forward three major activities as resolutions:

  • International directory of museums and collections of musical instruments.
  • Conservation and restoration of musical instruments.
  • Standards for cataloguing musical instruments.

Members were invited to collaborate in the different working groups, each to result in a publication. Publications (now outdated) resulted from the first two. The cataloguing standards were only partly published with the fiche (Ivonne Oddon) and the different lists in the Newsletters XI and XII.
During CIMCIM’s existence these three main working groups have been more or less active, depending on the members involved. With changing technical possibilities and a different approach to these problems, they still exist since they are the basis of fundamental museum work.

International directory of museums and collections of musical instruments

Members of this working group were Henrik Glahn, Alfred Berner, Wladimir Kaminski and Sibyl Marcuse. Several discussions took place during the Lisbon meeting in 1962 and when Mme de Chambure became president the file was so important that it was called the “white elephant”. After Henrik Glahn, Jean Jenkins took over as coordinator and many collections were added from Africa and Asia. This led to the publication of the first Directory in 1977 published by Frits Knuf with financial aid from ICOM. Notwithstanding the title, International Directory of Musical Instruments Collections, the collections from the U.S.A. were not included, since a survey of musical instrument collections in the United States and Canada existed (MLA 1974). This first edition appeared to be so successful that it was immediately sold out. Since 1983 renewed contacts with the publisher Frits Knuf and ICOM Paris resulted in a new contract for a 2nd revised edition. Finally Barbara Lambert was contacted by Knuf as coordinator for preparing this second edition. When the contract with Knuf was terminated in 1990, CIMCIM members continued the updating of the information and interviewed other publishers. An electronic version is now being published (from 1997).

Conservation and Restoration of musical instruments

Mme de Chambure, Alfred Berner and John Henry Van der Meer met from the beginning on different occasions in Paris, New York and Lisbon in order to prepare the publication: Preservation and Restoration of Musical Instruments, published by Hugh Evelyn, London, with financial aid from ICOM. Norman Brommelle from the British Museum gave very valuable information. Until 1975 Mme de Chambure was the coordinator of the working group. Scott Odell took over until the next plenary meeting. In 1979 the group was dissolved at the meeting in Leipzig.

Standards for cataloguing musical instruments

With Emanuel Winternitz as coordinator, Ernst Emsheimer and Alexander Buchner collaborated in this working group. In 1969 Emanuel Winternitz resigned and Claudie Marcel-Dubois took over, other members were Simha Arom and Geneviève Dournon. With the active participation of Ivonne Oddon, responsible for the ICOM Documentation Center, a card “fiche” for field work was devised. In 1980 a new name was proposed for this working group: `Problèmes de typologie et de classification en organologie musicale’. Only Claudie Marcel-Dubois and Geneviève Dournon were still active. Josiane Bran, Florence Abondance and Jeannine Lambrechts-Douillez joined and from 1983 Hélène La Rue. Monthly meetings, concluding with a week long conference to be held not only in Paris but also in Antwerp resulted in a renewed version of the classification problems published in Newsletters XI and XII.

Other working groups

Ethnic instruments

This group worked with Jean Jenkins as coordinator since 1968(?); in 1979 the group was suspended since most of the members had joined the working group on cataloguing. A book was published by ICOM and edited by Jean Jenkins, Ethnic Musical Instruments London, 1970.

Audio-visual techniques

A group with Maguy Pichonnet-Andral (coordinator), Dagmar Droysen and Félix van Lamsweerde met since 1974 and was dissolved in 1979.
Active since the Burgdorf meeting in 1980 with Brigitte Geiser as coordinator, it came to an end with the Scandinavian Tour in 1982 (See Special Issue of the Newsletter), organised by Mette Müller, Birgit Kjellström and Peter-Andreas Kjeldsberg. It was revived in 1990.

Access to musical instruments

In 1979 this problem was discussed during the meeting in Leipzig. It was decided that one of the subjects for the Mexico meeting in 1980 would be: The conflict situation between conservation and usage functions of museums. The coordinator was Jeannine Lambrechts-Douillez; a first document was discussed during a three-day meeting in Antwerp in 1982 after the Scandinavian Tour with Florence Abondance, Robert Barclay, Friedemann Hellwig, Jeannine Lambrechts-Douillez and Frances Palmer. By 1983 a draft was discussed in Oxford and finally published in 1986 as Recommendations for regulating the access to musical instruments in public collections. ICOM News published it in French, English and Spanish; German, Italian and Japanese versions later became available.


In Leipzig in 1979 the needs for a better knowledge of this modern technique and the use in museums was discussed. In 1985 a working group worked with Cary Karp (coordinator) and Barbara Lambert. In 1986 a first joint meeting with CIDOC took place in Buenos Aires; another one was held in The Hague in 1989.

Recommendations for Conservation

Since the 1986 meeting in Buenos Aires a group worked with Robert Barclay as coordinator. Recommendations for the conservation of musical instruments in collections; an annotated bibliography was published in 1993.


Since 1986, Peter-Andreas Kjeldsberg tried to obtain information on training centres with specific attention for musical instruments. A grant from the Norwegian National Committee of UNESCO was made available for the publication of this survey in 1994 as Training in Musical Instrument Conservation.


The current CIMCIM Working Groups with their co-ordinators are listed on the CIMCIM website.

Updated on May 2021