The collection includes ca. 1,000 musical instruments and related items from the late 15th century to the mid-20th century. Among them is the earliest dated guitar (Belchior Dias, Lisbon, 1581), the earliest known stringed keyboard instrument (clavicytherium, Ulm?, ca. 1480), a harpsichord by Alessandro Trasuntino (Venice, 1531) and a remarkable collection of English viols (including John Rose, ca.1590, Henry Jaye, 1619, Richard Meares c.1680, and Barak Norman 1692 and 1693).
The vast majority of instruments in the Museum collection fall in the following categories: