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Richardson and Bouquet Present at Conference in Mexico City
The philosophy of preserving musical instruments as indicators of culture is a relatively new concept for Mexican museums. Although the country is steeped in musical traditions that date back millennia, not many musical instruments have been preserved or intensively studied. Ancient musical instruments discovered at archeological sites can be viewed in archeological museums, but this number is relatively few when compared with the country's rich musical history that includes instruments brought into Mexico from Europe as early as the sixteenth century.
Two of the greatest challenges facing music historians, organologists, and conservators of musical instruments in Mexico are 1) locating the historic instruments in the country (there is no catalog of instruments or a database containing such information) and 2) convincing both the museum world and potential funding sources of the importance of preserving musical instruments as primary cultural indicators. In order to draw attention to the importance of both of these tasks, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (El Instituto Nacional de Anthropología e Historia) and the National School of Conservation, Restoration, and Museology (Escuela Nacional De Concervación, Restauración y Museografía) jointly sponsored the November conference.
In addition to presenting at the conference, Richardson was offered a special “behind the scenes” tour of The National Museum of Cultures (Museo Nacional de las Culturas) where she was able to tour the conservation lab and view some of the instruments in storage. Other highlights of the trip included a guided tour the Templo Mayor and museum by one of the archaeologists working on the site, as well as seeing and hearing the beautifully restored organs in the Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María. These organs are the largest 18th-century organs in the Americas.
The sharing of knowledge among institutions and individuals, such as occurred at the Mexico City conference, fosters a better understanding of research methods, institutional collections, and priorities, as well as a sense of how the field of musical instrument study (organology) is developing worldwide. As a result of its pre-eminent, leadership role in this discipline, it is hoped that the NMM will continue to be well-represented at future conferences, whether in Mexico or elsewhere around the world.
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