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Updated 11:00 AM April 19, 2004



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Instruments from Stearns Collection on display at Hill

While the audience at Hill Auditorium reveled in the massive and eclectic presentation of William Bolcom's "Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience" earlier this month, deep in the bowels of Hill was a variety of instruments as eclectic as those in the main hall, only silent.
Stearns designer Ted Lottman builds scale models of his display designs. Once approved, the designs are produced to full size for installation in the Kennedy Lobby of Hill Auditorium. (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)

These instruments are from the School of Music's Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments.

The exhibit cases in Hill's lower-level Kennedy Lobby feature rotating displays of Stearns Collection objects. Ann Arbor designer Ted Lottman constructed colorful displays encompassing three different aspects of the 2,500 instruments in the Stearns Collection.

One section of the showcase is devoted to a short retrospective of the Stearns Collection.

Another section is devoted to instruments made in Michigan and includes representative pieces from the Gibson Co. in Kalamazoo (famous for guitars), a brass instrument from the York Co. in Grand Rapids and a portion of a harpsichord made by John Challis, once based in Ypsilanti and Detroit.

The center section of the humidity-controlled exhibit cases soon will feature instruments that have been "adopted" by patrons who contributed to their restoration.

The Kennedy Lobby's exhibit cases allow these valuable instruments to be displayed in conditions that will continue to protect them. Besides controlling the humidity, the cases have a UV protective coating on the glass and a lighting system that does not produce damaging heat in the instrument exhibit chamber.

The Stearns Collection began with 904 pieces donated to the University in 1899 by Detroit drug manufacturer Frederick Stearns.

Since then, collection director Joseph Lam says, professors, collectors and performers have donated instruments, bringing the collection to its current count of more than 2,000 instruments.

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