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The Cincinnati Art Museum began to collect musical instruments as early as 1888. Today the collection includes over eight hundred musical instruments that span four centuries and represent over thirty musical cultures on four continents. Because of its global scope, it is one of the most important collections of its kind in the world. These instruments were designed, crafted and embellished to look as intriguing and beautiful as the sounds they produce. As a collection, they demonstrate both the shared human need to express oneself creatively and the importance of the arts (visual as well as performing) to the strength and traditions of communities across the globe.