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History of The Fiske Museum

The Fiske Museumís collections of over 1200 instruments of all types started with the acquisition in 1954 of the 550-instrument collection assembled by Curtis Janssen (1896-1952) from 1917 through the 1940s.

Janssen was a cornet and trumpet player who played on a substitute basis with John Phillip Sousaís band and participated in one world tour with this famous ensemble. During World War I he began collecting as a Navy bandsman serving on the Hindenburg Line in present day Poland when he traded a fountain pen for an anonymous German bugle. Janssen taught two summers at the Chateau des Bures in France where he purchased some instruments. During the late 1920s he visited London and the Royal College of Music to observe conducting classes and traveled to Bayreuth to observe the conductors at the Festival.
Subsequently, Janssen became a band director at Kansas State Teachersí College, and for eighteen years a well-known director at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. At Ohio, he taught a class in organology called "Instrumentology" making use of over three hundred lantern slides of various instruments, a library of notes from various books, and dozens of 5" X 11" cards of photographs from magazines and various sources.
Many individuals have given instruments to the Fiske Museum since it opened in 1987, including those from Dr. Leon G. Whitsell in 1992; the collection of Sol Kaufler in 2002; and the collection of Jack Coleman in 1997; and numerous others. In addition, there are about 200 instruments on loan from schools, institutions, and individuals. There are many historically significant American and European instruments and several fascinating instruments from different areas of the world. The Museumís web site includes a complete list of European and American instruments and there are some photographs attached to descriptions.

Click on any of the images below for a larger version...

Curt studying a natural trumpet in his office at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, ca. 1945.