History of the Collection
The playing collection is based on the Burri collection of musical instruments. Karl Burri (1921–2003) was trained as a brass instrument maker. Since 1945 he ran his business of wind instrument's sale and repair in Bern. He got many "old" instruments, and in consequence he began to collect systematically in 1964. He bought historic instruments from factories in Paris and elsewhere as well as from antiques dealers and brocantes. Further he exchanged items with other collectors and got historic instruments from customers and musicians.
In 1970, Karl Burri established his own museum nearby in Zimmerwald. In five rooms he presented his ca. 700 instruments in thematical order as a study collection. He showed it to countless music societies, classes, private persons and specialists. 20 years later, his collection has doubled.
After the dead of Karl Burri in 2003 his two children continued. In 2013 Adrian v. Steiger published his Dissertation Die Instrumentensammlung Burri. Hintergründe und Herausforderungen (in German). He presents in his book the collection, its history and selected instruments. Further he discusses the dilemma of playing vs. displaying of historic musical instruments.
In 2015 the Foundation Instrumentensammlung Burri took over the collection in order to preserve this important cultural heritage as a playing collection in Bern. Supplements will be added through donations or loans. A recent major donation is the collection of 70 instruments of the Swiss maker Hirsbrunner, documenting the 200 years of that company at Sumiswald near Bern.