Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown

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Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
Portrait by Anders Zorn
Portrait by Anders Zorn
Died1918 (aged 75–76)

Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown (1842–1918) was an American writer, collector, and curator of musical instruments.

She is best known for her collection of musical instruments that she donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She worked together with her son, who made the drawings used to illustrate her catalog of instruments.[1] Beginning in 1889, she gave instruments to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, named for her husband John Crosby Brown, became one of the world’s most historic and comprehensive collections of musical instruments.[1] It started with an impressive donation of 270 instruments mostly from the Far East, Middle East, Africa, and the Pacific Islands in 1889 that were accompanied with the stipulation that she and her son could add to the collection and replace items with items of equal importance but superior quality. By the time she died, the collection encompassed 5 gallery rooms and had 3600 pieces. By the time her son died it held 4000 pieces.

Notable European instruments

Notable works


  1. ^ a b Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown's Collection Celebrates 125 Years at the Met, 2014 blog post by the museum
  2. ^ Listed as the oldest piano in the world in the Metropolitan Museum of Art guide and one of only 3 surviving pianos by Cristofori