Who are the people behind the Cello Museum?
Hello, cello friends.
My name is Brenda Neece, and I am a curator here at the Cello Museum.
The idea for an online museum about the cello came to me in a flash in the sitting room of one of my greatest and most beloved mentors, the great Jeremy Montagu (1927-2020), organologist and retired curator of the Bate Collection at the University of Oxford.
Immediately after leaving the University of Oxford where I earned my doctorate in the history of the cello, I took up the post as the first curator of the musical instrument museum at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. After just over a decade there, I left to pursue my interests in the cello and in photography.
Since that time, Jeremy had been trying to persuade me to get back into the museum world, and I had resisted until that moment last October. As our conversation turned to my career, I said: “Jeremy, if only there were a cello museum – then I’d want to get back to museum work.”
If this had been a cartoon, a light bulb would have appeared over my head at that moment, along with the text: I will make a cello museum online.
From there, Jeremy and I discussed the value of sharing information, making it readily available to all who are interested, and how such a museum could be made a reality. After leaving Jeremy’s house, I realized I’d had possibly the most valuable tutorial I’d ever had with him.
My next two and a half weeks involved a tour of some of the most famous sites of Egypt, with visits to prominent Egyptological collections in the UK beforehand. Although these were unrelated to the cello, as I visited numerous museums and historic sites, my mind was working on how to create the cello museum online without a physical presence.
When I returned to my home in North Carolina from my adventures in Egypt and the UK, I started to put together the Cello Museum team. This initially included
- an anonymous sponsor and advisor
- two official advisors – Jeremy Montagu and Laurence Libin
- an anonymous advertising and web expert with five years of musical instrument museum experience
- and another cello specialist with interests that overlap but also complement my own – Erica Lessie.
I will always remain grateful to him for all of his help with this museum – and moreover, for his guidance over three decades. I am sad that he did not live to see the launch of the Cello Museum.
My Father’s Advice
Growing up, I witnessed my father putting together and leading teams of researchers. He told me I should always surround myself with people who were at least as smart and/or as much of an expert – if not more so – than I was, and that way I’d have the best team possible.
I followed my father’s advice when I brought together the people at the Cello Museum. Now, it is my great pleasure to introduce the rest of the Cello Museum team.