UCLA's Department of Ethnomusicology houses an outstanding collection of musical instruments from many parts of the world. Inaugurated in 1958 with a Rockefeller Grant, the collection is one of the largest owned by a university, now numbering eight hundred items. It contains instruments and ensemble sets from countries and ethnic groups in West and East Africa; North and South America; East, Southeast and South Asia; Eastern Europe; and the Middle East. A permanent exhibit of seven cases of musical instruments is located at the entrance to our wing of Schoenberg Music Building, with the renowned Javanese, Balinese, Thai, and West African ensembles on display in the famed Gamelan Room. As part of the University of California, the World Musical Instrument Collection serves hundreds of students each year who enroll in the Department's signature world music ensembles. It also provides opportunities to local Los Angeles community members, K-12 groups, and other visitors to learn about the rich variety of musical traditions from around the world via drop-in visits, organized tours, and public programming. The instruments in the Collection are core to the free public concerts of the Department's annual Spring Festival of World Music and Jazz, and to the quarterly public concerts by the Music of China ensemble.
One of the collection's most stunning attractions is the Javanese gamelan, Khjai Mendung—the Venerable Dark Cloud. It is a fine orchestral set consisting of over sixty pieces. Many of the instruments in the collection were acquired in the 1950s and early 1960s thanks to the prodigious energy and organizational skill of one of the founders of the former Ethnomusicology Institute, Emeritus Professor Mantle Hood. There have been several major acquisitions since then.