The Brussels Musical Instruments Museum (MIM), established in 1877, was originally a part of the Brussels Royal Conservatory. Under the first curator, Victor-Charles Mahillon (1841-1924), the museum collected one of the finest collections of musical instruments in the world. Today it is one of the world’s leading musical instrument museums.[1]


The MIM contains an interesting collection of oboes. Up to now, the only public available information source for this was Mahillon’s Catalogue, consisting of 5 volumes, written between 1880 and 1922.[2] This reference book is still outstandingly accurate today from many points of view. The catalogue describes the instruments up to number 3300, covering about 2/3 of the actual oboe collection.


The present catalogue aims to give more detailed information about the complete oboe collection, correcting a few errors in the Mahillon catalogue and updating some information concerning the common names of some oboe types, according to the latest international standards and references. Rudimentary measurements are also given, and in some cases full measurements. It was not possible – given the boundaries of this project – to provide full measurements for all the instruments.


The present catalogue lists all the Western oboes after 1660, excluding folk and ethnic instruments, and not-directly blown double reeds, with a few exceptions.


The cataloguing method followed was developed by Dr Arnold Myers,[3] leaving out some curatorial management data fields, but with an extra field for materials.



A great deal of this catalogue was written in my small office in the Conservatory building, located in the wing where the Musical Instruments Museum used to be before it moved to the present location in 1998.

Without wanting to associate myself with the genius of Mahillon, it was a nice thought to imagine that Mahillon probably worked on his Catalogue in the same rooms during all his years there.

With this catalogue I would like to pay a humble tribute to this great man.


Stefaan Verdegem - Royal Conservatory of Brussels

October 2011