To store and allow access to an impressive collection of musical instruments is the main task of this scientific institution. But it doesn't stop there. Scientific staff examine the socio-cultural context, the life, the construction characteristics and capabilities of each musical instrument.
Organology (from the Greek organon, instrument, and logos, word or reasoning) is the branch of musicology that looks at instruments from a historical, anthropological, acoustic and technical perspective. This scientific discipline was developed in the 19th century, thanks to Victor-Charles Mahillon (1841-1924), the first curator of what was then the Instrument Museum of the Music Conservatory.
Mahillon devised the first scientific classification of musical instruments and provided the impressive Catalog descriptif et analytique du Musée instrumental du Conservatoire royal de Musique de Bruxelles (5 vol., Ghent, Brussels, 1880-1922), which described the 3,300 instruments the museum acquired between its foundation in 1877 and 1922.