The Sir Nicholas Shackleton Collection

Safeguarding treasures for future generations

In 2006 a valuable contribution to the preservation of musical history was made. The collection of Sir Nicholas Shackleton, award-winning geologist and lover of woodwind instruments, arrived at the University’s Reid Concert Hall Museum of Instruments.

There are more than 900 items in the collection: flutes, oboes, bassoons and overwhelmingly clarinets, an instrument Sir Nicholas played and loved. It is the greatest assembly of these instruments in the world.

Sir Nicholas passed away in 2006, and his will stated that his collection, plus an endowment of nearly £700,000, be bequeathed to an institution that would guarantee its accessibility to the public and researchers, and where each item would be catalogued and appreciated. With its track record of research and preservation of historical instruments, the University of Edinburgh was selected to continue Sir Nicholas’s work.

Led by the University’s Professor Arnold Myers, a team has catalogued the entire collection. The 809-page result was published in June 2007. The catalogue is also freely available online, acknowledging Sir Nicholas’s wish for these instruments to be accessible to all.

For more information please visit The Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments website.


He was really looking forward to doing research on his collection when he retired, so it is wonderful that the instruments have gone to a place where that research will be nurtured.

Penelope Shackleton

Get involved

For further information on legacies please contact Morag Murison