Online Music Instrument Databases

Musical Instrument Museums Online (MIMO): Link

  • The MIMO Project ran from September 2009 until August 2011 It successfully achieved all of its objectives, in the process creating the world’s largest freely accessible database for information on musical instruments held in public collections.
  • Currently features over 64,000 instruments, and the website can be translated into 12 different languages (including English).
  • A large amount of their information comes from museums in the United Kingdom and France, but have sources across Europe, as well as 2 museums in Africa and 2 in Asia.
  • Data Provider Agreement
    • While it does not explicitly spell out a copyright agreement, this agreement does mention that Metadata can be provided to third parties via Linked Open Data.

Early Music Instrument Database: Link

  • Created by Case Western Reserve University (Dr. Ross W. Duffin), the website features a limited collection of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque instruments.
  • The site features both audio and pictures, as well as a short history of the instrument.
  • No copyright information found

All the Musical Instruments of the World: Link

  • Created in 2015, it features “all the musical instruments of the world.”
  • The list features the name of the instrument with an image.
  • Another page showcases an image of how the instrument is held when playing.
  • No copyright information found

Musical Instrument Museums at Edinburgh: Link

  • The collection spans over 500 years with around 5000 objects
  • Utilizing the filters of their search, you can navigate around to see all the objects
  • No copyright information found

Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente*: Link

  • Located in Vienna, The Collection of Historic Musical Instruments hosts over 3500 instruments from the 15th to 19th centuries.
  • The holdings of the collection have their origins in Habsburg holdings and include a particularly comprehensive range of clavichords and Viennese fortepianos.
  • They have a small section of “selected masterpieces” on their website, separated by instrument type.
  • Copyright
    • All images, text, and audio material are protected by copyright can may not be reproduced, copied, altered or otherwise be used in any way without express permission.

The National Museum of American History: Link

  • The Museum’s music collections contain more than 5,000 instruments of American and European heritage.
  • Music and Music Instruments are combined, so while over 9000 items are digitized, the items are mixed together.
  • You can filter more specific subsections, but only some things have a subsection in the search system.
  • Copyright
    • The NMAH is moving toward an open access policy for their colelctions in the public domain. Images of items in the public domain can be downloaded from the website for personal or classroom use without written permission, as long as it is within the meaning of fair use
    • For using anything outside the scope of fair use, written permision must be granted from the museum.

The National Music Museum: Link

  • A partnership with the University of South Dakota, the museum’s collections include more than 15,000 American, European, and non-Western instruments from all cultures and historical periods.
  • Their eMuseum only features some of their collections -at this time, eMuseum includes instruments made before 1800 as well as instruments that are part of the Arne B. Larson Founding Collection.
  • For items not in the eMuseum, a secondary option is to look through their collections checklists, which feature an image and description of every item in a specific collection.
  • Copyright
    • While there is an exclusion for Fair Use, beyond that all images, text, and audio material are protected by copyright can may not be reproduced, copied, altered or otherwise be used in any way without express permission.


  • MINIM-UK is a key source for the exploration of historic musical instruments held in the United Kingdom’s publically-accessible collections, with the aim to support research, education, and those with a general interest in music and music history.
  • MINIM-UK also commissioned professional audio recordings of selected instruments now in their holdings.
  • Some of the search filters are still in progress, but you can still navigate manually through the online collections.
  • Copyright
    • The majority of instrument records on MINIM-UK are provided under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal agreement, except where indicated otherwise in the Credi/source of a record.

MusicBrainz Instrument List: Link

  • An index list of instruments that features the name and a short textual description.
  • Clicking on a specific instrument leads to an entry, with information pulled in from other databases, including WikiData information.
  • Copyright
    • MusicBrainz utilizes IROMBOOK images for their pictures on the instrument list.
    • According to the website the illustrations can be copied, modified and reused without notifying the author. On conversation with the author they asked to ideally be credited with “IROMBOOKのイラスト” (“Illustration by IROMBOOK”).

Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels: Link

  • Opened in 2000, 1200 of the musuems 10,000 instruments are on display in four different galleries
  • Part of MIMO
  • Copyright
    • Digital Images hosted in the Carmentis catalogue can be downloaded free of charge at a lower resolution
    • Higher resolution photos can be requested through an order form.