The University of Toronto acoustics collection consists of a comprehensive series of instruments made in the Parisian workshop of Rudolph Koenig (1832-1901). Koenig was both an innovative instrument maker, prolific experimenter, and a major influence in the founding of modern experimental acoustics in physics and psychology. His work straddled artisanal traditions in musical instrument making with the precision traditions of the Parisian scientific instrument trade.
This collection includes instruments ranging from the standard teaching instruments to one-of-a-kind research instruments. There are instruments that illustrate the standard text-book approach to nineteenth-century acoustics; There are the key instruments that demonstrated the work of Hermann von Helmholtz (1821 -1894) such as the Koenig sound analyser, the double siren, and the vowel synthesiser; there are arrays of highly- specialised, precision tuning forks made to test and demonstrate combination tones, a source of controversy between Koenig and Helmholtz. Overall, the collection provides a window into Koenig’s workshop, which served as a meeting place and exchange of artisanal traditions, disciplines, varied scientific ideas, and practices.