Rolf Irle Collection


The Rolf Irle Collection at the CWM comprises over 3,000 musical instruments, including a collection of instruments from Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and itinerant monks. It also houses a collection of rare musical instruments from Africa. Other focal points are East Asia, India and the Far East, Indonesia/New Guinea/Philippines, the Arab-Islamic Orient, Turkey, sacred and ritual instruments of numerous religions and beliefs. In 2009, the instrument collection came to the University of Hildesheim as a donation from the collector Rolf Irle to establish the Center for World Music.

The morphological and tonal diversity of the instrument collection is made accessible through museum mediation and culturally sensitive approaches - unfortunately, it is not yet possible to view it at the moment. The exhibition is being redesigned together with researchers from the project "Music as a store of knowledge in museum practice - possibilities and challenges of collection management and curation of an ethnomusicological university collection". With source communities such as colleagues from Ghana and Nigeria as well as experts from certain disciplines, individual exhibition modules will be tested in practice and thought through in the overall concept. Exhibition architects, technicians, graphic designers and colleagues for barrier-free access will be consulted on a selective basis.



Rolf Irle is an ethnomusicologist and collector of instruments from non-European cultural areas. As a teacher, Rolf Irle has conducted transcultural educational programmes in schools, church and other educational institutions, in teacher training on a regional and national level and, since 1996, increasingly with children, young people and adults with and without disabilities. In 2009, he donated his collection of over 3,000 objects to the Center for World Music and, after his retirement, worked on a voluntary basis as collection manager at the CWM.


Data sheet


Acquisition year

2009 Rolf Irle transferred the collection to the University of Hildesheim Foundation / Center for World Music.


Rolf Irle

Type of material and number

more than 3,000 instruments from all over the world

Status of collection

partially indexed

Status of digitisation

partially indexed

Location of the collection

Center for World Music. Approx. 1,000 instruments are on display in the CWM hall.

Project funds