National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
3rd Floor, West Wing, North Gallery Floor Plan
The Musical Instruments Gallery presents samples of instruments and music relating to the history, performance styles and techniques of European and American music and the development of musical instruments dating from the 17th century. Some have been carefully restored to playing condition.
Included in the Hall are several instruments made by Antonio Stradivari, universally acknowledged to have been the greatest of all violin makers. The Servais Cello (1701) is considered to be one of the best preserved Stradivarius cellos. Also included is the Herbert R. Axelrod Quartet of Decorated Instruments, also made by Stradivari. Among only 11 rare decorated Stradivarius instruments that survive today, the Axelrod Quartet features the following: Violin, the Ole Bull (1687); Viola, the Axelrod (1695); and Violin, the Greffuhle (1709). While generally on display, these instruments also are used for performances of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society.