Research project that will lead to the construction of a scientifically sound and playable reconstruction of an Antwerp virginal (a rectangular member of the harpsichord family) that was made in 1640 and is attributed to Ioannes Ruckers.

About the project

In the collection of the Koninklijk Oudheidkundig Genootschap (Royal Antiquarian Society) there is a virginal dated to 1640 that is attributed to Ioannes Ruckers. He belonged to a family of leading harpsichord makers. It still has its original stand and much of its original decoration, but it can no longer be played. Making it playable again would mean the replacement of original parts and therefore destroy too much of the history of the instrument. The original decoration is hidden beneath two later paint layers, which were undoubtedly added in order to modernize the look of the instrument's case. The harpsichord is being analyzed with a variety of scientific techniques so as to replicate the orginal instrument as closely as possible.

Aim of the project

One or more scientifically reliable reconstructions of the entire instrument are being prepared in a joint project with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the University of Leiden and the Royal Academy of Arts and Conservatorium in Ghent. The aim is to use historical techniques to reproduce not only the original decorations on the instrument but also a playable musical instrument as close to the original one as possible. The properties and sound of this instrument from 1640 will be imitated to the highest degree of accuracy.


Tamar Hestrin-Grader
Guest Researcher

Manu Frederickx
Associate Conservator
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Giovanni Paolo Di Stefano
Curator of Musical Instruments

Paul van Duin
Head of furniture conservation (until 10-2023)

Katrien Keune
Head of Science

Jan Dorscheid
Furniture Conservator

Partners and sponsors

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art New, York
  • Royal Academy of Arts and Conservatorium in Ghent
  • Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, University of Leiden
  • Koninklijk Oudheidkundig Genootschap (Royal Antiquarian Society)