Archive - Collect and preserve

The CWM houses extensive collections of sound recordings, instruments and documents. Capturing, cataloguing and digitising them is one of the constant tasks. The central goal is to establish a specialised library.

The process of collecting, preserving and researching is always accompanied by a reflection on provenance and culturally sensitive mediation. Where possible, the CWM seeks a dialogue at eye level with representatives and experts from the societies of origin of the corresponding instruments.

With the support of the Federal Foreign Office, the CWM is also involved in securing and cataloguing music archives abroad. Collections that suffer from climatic and political threats, for example in Egypt and Nigeria, can be preserved in this way. The aim here is to make a cultural heritage accessible to all people and to science in cooperation with societies of origin, to develop leading standards in ethnomusicological cataloguing and to critically reflect on them.

The collections at the Center for World Music at the University of Hildesheim include the "Music of Man Archive" with 45,000 sound recordings, a collection of musical instruments comprising 4,500 objects by the private collector Rolf Irle and the CD collection of the Algerian Hamid Ouamara with recordings from the Maghreb.

Make use of the music archive!

The CWM occasionally rents out instruments and music samples from the sound archive and makes digital copies of material available to academics, musicians and music educators. Use the archive and contact us at cwm[at]uni-hildesheim.de. For online research on the contents of the archives, libraries and collections, use the online research tools!


Many of the objects are currently being catalogued and researched by experts in individual projects. Not all instruments, objects, recordings and writings are therefore accessible to the public. Here you can see some of the collections from the CWM.

Collection Manfred Bonson
Archive Arc Music
Collection Rolf Irle
Collection Wolfgang Laade
Collection of Coptic Orthodox Chants
Music Museum of Iran
Collection Malawi
Collection Hamid Ouamara
Collection Robert Günther


Musical instruments are not just tools for producing sounds - they are often embedded in cultural actions, have taken a specific path into the CWM's collections as individual objects and require appropriate treatment. How does one do justice to them and their primary contexts; can they be exhibited at all, and if so, how? Collections of ethnomusicological artefacts bring with them a great responsibility. In 2022, the CWM is launching an exhibition that is sensitive to the instruments, sounds and stories of the collections. We will keep you up to date here!

Pictures: © CWM / University of Hildesheim Foundation