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Adopt an Instrument Program

Mayuri, India, 19th century Cello, The King, by Andrea Amati, Cremona, Italy, mid-16th century

The New York Times recently called the National Music Museum, in Vermillion, South Dakota, "One of the largest and most important collections of historical instruments in the world," whose "galleries teem with masterpieces."

Individuals and groups now have the opportunity to support the National Music Museum's critical mission to collect, conserve, research, exhibit, and interpret these great musical instruments, through the Adopt-an-Instrument initiative.

Like people and animals, musical instruments need proper 'care and feeding.' Typically, two-thirds of a museum's operating costs are directly related to managing and caring for the collections, whether on exhibit or in storage. It costs an average of $60 per square foot annually to store 92% of the National Music Museum's collection, and objects on public display require even greater care and attention.

The NMM has selected several dozen loveable instruments available for support and affection.

For a donation, which based on the size, visibility and public profile of each instrument, you can become the proud "adoptive parent" of one of the NMM's musical treasures. Individuals, friends, families, groups and school classes are welcome to adopt. Each adoption is exclusive and for a one-year period. Waiting lists will be maintained in order of the date the donation is received.

What you receive when you adopt:

  • The satisfaction of protecting a precious piece of musical history.
  • A high-resolution photo of your adopted instrument (s), suitable for framing.
  • When you adopt an instrument at the highest donation level, you will get a rare, personal photo-op with the instrument out of its exhibit case, at the National Music Museum.
  • If you give an instrument-adoption gift, we will send that person a presentation card and instrument photo.
  • A label in, on or near the exhibit case, to recognize your adoption.
  • Annual acknowledgment in the NMM newsletter and at the NMM's annual membership reception.
  • A tax deduction. Your donation is deductible to the extent allowed by law.

View a beautiful virtual gallery of NMM instruments available for 'adoption,' online in the Google Cultural Institute:
Note: Instruments designated with an asterisk (*) are not shown on the Google site.

Some of the National Music Museum instruments available for adoption:



  • The 'King' Cello (Andrea Amati)
  • The 'Harrison' Violin (Antonio Stradivari)
  • The King Henry IV Violin (Antonio and Girolamo Amati)
  • The 'Rawlins' Guitar (Antonio Stradivari)
  • World's oldest playable harpsichord (Naples)
  • Javanese Gamelan
  • Early American Pipe Organ (Christian Dieffenbach)


  • Swiss House Organ (Josef Loosser)
  • Viola (Andrea Amati)*
  • The 'Fruh' Cello (Antonio Stradivari)*
  • The 'Cutler-Challen' Mandolin (Antonio Stradivari)
  • Viennese Grand Piano (Anton Martin Thym)
  • Flemish Harpischord (Gommar van Everbroek)
  • Goblet Drum on Chariot (Thailand)*


  • Mayuri Peacock Lute (India)
  • Chest Organ (Jacob Hannss)
  • Portuguese Grand Piano (Manuel Antunes)
  • Single-Action Harp (Jean Henri Naderman)
  • Double Chromatic Harp (Henry Greenway)
  • Orchestrion/Nickelodeon (J.P. Seeburg Piano Co.)
  • Ergonomic Violin (Chanot and Lété workshop)
  • Les Paul Model Electric Guitar (Gibson Inc.)
  • Mammoth Sousaphone (Holton Co.)
  • Bass Saxophone (Adolphe Sax)
  • Janko Upright Piano (Decker Bros.)


  • Trumpet with Six Valves (Adolphe Sax)
  • Keyed Bugle and Case (Charles-Joseph Sax)
  • Baritone Saxophone (Adolphe Sax)
  • Grand Parade Trumpet (Adolphe Sax)
  • Cornet à Pistons (Charles-Joseph Sax)
  • Orchestral Horn (Charles-Joseph Sax)
  • Glass Armonica (Ben Franklin design, maker unknown)
  • Bowl Gong (Japan)
  • Miniature Natural Horn (Johann Wilhelm Haas)
  • Renaissance Harp (Italy)
  • Renaissance Ivory Lute (Venice)
  • English Cittern (Petrus Rautta)
  • Tenor Viola da Gamba (Gregor Karp)
  • Archtop Guitar (Orville Gibson)
  • Baroque Natural Trumpet (Johann Wilhelm Haas)
  • Crystal Flute (Claude Laurent)


  • Clarinet (August Grenser)
  • Oboe (Jacob Denner)
  • Basset Horn (Frantisek Doleisch)
  • Alto Saxhorn (Adolphe Sax)
  • Alto Saxhorn with Rotating Bell (Adolphe Sax)
  • Tenor Saxophone (Adolphe Sax)*
  • Tenor Slide Trombone (Michael Nagel)
  • Presentation Snare Drum (William Shute Tompkins)
  • Timpani (Germany)
  • Lyre Mandolin (Orville Gibson)
  • Lira da Braccio (Francesco Linarol)
  • Ivory Cornettino (Germany)
  • English Treble Viola da Gamba (John Hoskins)


  • Flute (Charles-Joseph Sax)
  • Copper Serpent (William Lander)
  • Crocodile-Zither (Mon people)
  • Serpentine Horn (India)*
  • Trumpet Mask (Papua, New Guinea)*
  • Ivory Harmonica (Georg Bruckbauer)


  • Symphonium (Charles Wheatstone)
  • Goldfish Harmonica (Andreas Koch)*
  • Courting Flute (Pueblo Nation)
  • Snapping Turtle Rattle (Iroquois Nation)
  • Treble Recorder (Jan Juriaensz van Heerde)
  • Cornetto (Italy)
  • Pochette (Dancing Master's Fiddle)


  • Binocular Pitch Pipe*
  • Cat Harmonica (Andreas Koch)*
  • Banana Harmonica (F.A. Rauner)*
  • "Babe's Musical Bat" Harmonica (F.A. Rauner)*
  • West-African Thumb Piano (Angola)
  • West-African Thumb Piano (Cameroon)*
  • Conch Shell Trumpet (Tibet)*

If you are interested in adopting an NMM musical instrument that is not pictured on the Google Cultural Institute site, contact the National Music Museum for its donation level. Write or call 605/677-5306.

If you are not interested in adopting a particular instrument but want to support the overall care of the NMM collection, give online or send a donation to National Music Museum, 414 E. Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069-2390.

Adoption Application

National Music Museum
The University of South Dakota
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD   57069-2390

Phone: (605) 677-5306
Fax: (605) 677-6995

©National Music Museum, 2015
Most recent update: October 15, 2016

The University of South Dakota
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