Bowed String Instrument Collection
The Powerhouse Museum’s collection of bowed string instruments is one of its major strengths. In particular its holdings of violins by both European and Australian makers are the largest in the country. The earliest violin acquired was in 1900 and made for the Museum by F Chainie of the Sydney suburb of Balmain. This instrument, made of Australian timbers, was acquired as an example of the type of item that could be made using Australian timbers. Since that time, especially from the late 1960s, the collection has grown as a way of preserving and documenting the history of violin making in Australia.
The bulk of the violin collection was assembled by one of the Museum’s great benefactors, EA Crome. The EA & VI Crome Collection (named after EA Crome and his wife Vertie) not only includes violins but also tools, sheet music related to the violin, photographs of makers, performers and composers and letters and other documents relating to both makers and famous musicians. The collection is broad and ranges from instruments by the likes of Gragnani and Australia’s AE Smith through to documents appointing a violinist to Charles II’s orchestra and a series of letters written by the influential eighteenth century violinist Giovanni Battista Viotti.
The Museum has continued to build on this legacy by acquiring other violins and bowed string instruments by Australian makers both historical and contemporary, from John Devereux, thought to be Australia’s first professional bowed string instrument maker in the 1850s, to the work of more recent practitioners such as Harry Vatiliotis, Graham Caldersmith and Ian Watchorn.
Collaborative work has been done with a number of musicians, makers and institutions over the years and most notably with musician and composer Romano Crivici and maker Harry Vatiliotis and their collaboration with the Powerhouse Museum and the University of New South Wales Physics Department staff Professor Joe Wolf, Associate Professor John Smith and PhD candidate Ra Inta to develop the Powerhouse Violin Twins project.
Some material in this collection may be subject to copyright.
By appointment only.
A selection of material is available on the Museum's Website. This material has not been fully digitised and records contain varying levels of information.
Archives; Cello accessories; Cellos; Musical instrument accessories; Musical instrument bows; Musical instrument cases; Musical instrument components; Musical instrument strings; Photographic prints; Violas; Violin making tools; Violins
Australian timbers; Luthiers; Musical Instrument Makers
United Kingdom; Europe; Australia