News & Media

News and Media

News and Media

Oberlin Conservatory Celebrates Final Step in Linking Selch Collection with the World

Sep. 10, 2012

Selch exhibit
Photo by Dale Preston

OBERLIN, OHIO (September 7, 2012) — On Thursday, September 20, a collector’s vision and the generosity of his family bring an expansive exhibit to the public. The unveiling of the Frederick R. Selch Classroom at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music is the final phase of an endeavor to showcase a seminal collection of American music instruments and artifacts. The Frederick R. Selch Collection establishes Oberlin as the vehicle that links the collection with the outside world and its position as an important center for the study of American music.

Gifted in 2008 by Patricia Bakwin Selch of New York City, widow of noted collector and music scholar Frederick (Eric) R. Selch, the entire Selch collection includes some 700 instruments, 9,000 books (rare first editions and important primary source material among them), and a number of works of art. Mrs. Selch is also the benefactor of the new Frederick R. Selch Professorship of Musicology, to which position James Ryan O’Leary was appointed in May.

The conservatory will host two public events in celebration of Mrs. Selch’s gift. Selch Professor O’Leary will give a lecture for the public entitled “The Past’s Future: The Frederick R. Selch Collection of American Music History.” Held on September 20 at 4:00 p.m. in the conservatory’s Clonick Hall (Kohl Building, 77 W. College Street, Oberlin), his talk will incorporate a demonstration focusing on the potential of the collection and the dynamic ways in which it will be used to enrich Oberlin’s curriculum.

Following the lecture at 5:00 p.m., audience members and the public are invited to tour the Selch Collection displayed in five exhibits in separate locations on campus. Though easily considered as the kind of authenticated instrument collection found in a major museum, the Selch Collection is a living, hands-on assembly of educational materials. All exhibits will be on display for the full fall semester, with the exception of an exhibit featuring actress and abolitionist Fanny Kemble that ends on October 19.

Both the lecture and the tour are free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

The Selch Classroom, on the newly renovated second floor of Bibbins Hall, is a technology enhanced “smart” classroom allowing networking, audio-visual, and audience response capabilities. It features floor-to-ceiling walnut cabinets, which will house a portion of the Selch collection, and wide-plank flooring. Custom lighting shines from the ceiling onto the crystal-clear glass cabinet fronts, and the acoustic ceiling tiles and mechanized, retractable window shades provide artistic but subtle complements to the display.

"We are enormously grateful to the entire Selch family for their extraordinary generosity to Oberlin,” Dean of the Conservatory David H. Stull says. “Eric and Pat Selch's support for a Center for the Study of American Music History will immeasurably advance the study and performance of music at the highest level.”

Mrs. Selch says that in the past people went overseas in order to study American music in great depth, and she’s “so happy that the collection will be made available in these ways for historical study.” Mrs. Selch adds that Eric always intended for his collection to be used, and he would be happy that it has found a nurturing home. “This is coming to pass the way he envisioned it,” Mrs. Selch says.

For more information on the Selch Collection, please visit or contact Selch Curator Barbara Lambert at

Meet Patricia Selch and watch a video about the collection:

(See Fact Sheet below for exhibit locations.)


Event schedule for Thursday, September 20, 2012:
The lecture and the tour are free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
For directions, please visit

4:00 p.m.
The Past’s Future: The Frederick R. Selch Collection of American Music History
A special lecture by Selch Professor James O’Leary
Clonick Hall, Bertram and Judith Kohl Building
77 W. College Street, Oberlin, OH  44074

5:00 p.m.
Tour showcasing the Frederick R. Selch Collection
Exhibits and locations:

  • “Beginnings of American Music and Musical Instruments”
    Selch Classroom, Bibbins 234 (77 W. College Street)  
  • “Musical Instruments and the Harmonic Series”
    Science Center (119 Woodland Street)  
  • “Musical Pursuits of Actress and Abolitionist Fanny Kemble”
    Academic Commons (Mudd Center, 148 W. College Street)  
  • “Frederick R. Selch”
    Conservatory Library display case (Bibbins Hall, 77 W. College Street)
  • “19th Century European and American Music”
    Bertram and Judith Kohl Building (77 W. College Street)

Bookmark and Share
Related News

There are no related stories, please check back for further updates.