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Artpod: From the "extraordinary to the seemingly mundane" - an audio tour of the Stearns Collection

One of the many shelves inside the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments
Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio
One of the many shelves inside the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments

The Cincinnati Art Museum recently discovered it had a long lost treasure trove of rare instruments in its possession. More than 800 antique instruments just sitting in storage…unused and pretty much forgotten.

Turns out the University of Michigan has three times as many historical instruments housed mostly off campus in a high-security vault. On today's podcast, we get a rare tour inside the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments.


Steven Ball is director of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments:

"This is the largest, most diverse and most important collection of musical instruments owned by any university in the world. It’s so remarkable it really almost defies words. There are instruments from every continent except Antarctica."

There are more than 2,400 instruments "from the extraordinary to the seemingly mundane," says Ball.

Want a visual? Check out this slideshow of some of the instruments featured in the audio tour. You can also access a searchable database of The Stearns Collection.

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
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