Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dayton C. Miller Musical Iconography Collection

The Dayton C. Miller Musical Iconography Collection is now available on the Library of Congress' Web site, the Performing Arts Encyclopedia!

Dayton C. Miller (1866-1941), physicist, inventor, flutist, and collector of all materials related to the history of the flute, donated his world-renowned collection of flutes and flute-related materials to the Library of Congress in 1941. This new Web presentation features a selection of about 120 prints from a subset of the Miller Collection, known as the Miller Iconography Collection. The iconography collection refers to works of art on paper that date from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries containing illustrations of flutes and other musical instruments.

Each of the selected prints is accompanied by an essay that includes biographies of artists or authors of illustrated books associated with a particular print. Extensive descriptive information is included in the catalog record for each print. Users will be able to search this online selection of prints by artist, artist's nationality, century, subject, and instrument, as well as by keyword. (The entire iconography collection consists of about 850 prints, and a checklist of the entire collection is also available on the site.) Although his iconography collection primarily features wind instruments, since it complements Dr. Miller's collection of flutes, there are many other musical instruments represented in the prints as well, including stringed, keyboard, and percussion instruments from the Renaissance to the present, ancient Greek or Roman instruments, and instruments indigenous to Asia, India, Africa, and the South Pacific.

Special essays on this Web presentation describe how Dayton C. Miller came to collect the prints in the iconography collection and how he organized the collection; how the musical instruments in the prints were identified; and how this presentation came to be in terms of the research involved, the selection process, and other factors.

The larger Dayton C. Miller Collection consists of 1,700 flutes; 10,000 pieces of music composed for the flute; his library of 3,000 books documenting the history of the flute and flutemaking; his correspondence and ledger books; 2,000 photographs which include hundreds of photos of flutists or composers for the flute; European and American patent trademark catalogues; a small statuary collection; and the iconography collection.