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The Schuman Collection Hits a High Note

The Schuman Collection Hits a High Note

Dr. Jack Schuman takes great delight in introducing visitors to instruments in the Schuman Collection of Musical Instruments. Although the collection contains more than 700 rare and valuable instruments, Jack doesn't play favorites—he plays them all!

"SOU has one of the most important instrument collections in the country," says Dr. George Simmons, retired dean of Science and Engineering at Seattle University and a member of the Early Music Guild of Seattle. "The hard part is already accomplished: fifty years of collecting by Dr. Schuman."

Stephen Bacon, conservator of the Schuman Collection and owner of Bellwood Violin, agrees, "The Schuman Collection is unmatched in the Northwest and merits international recognition."

Jack is indeed a jack-of-all-trades, with his latest accomplishment being the publication of a collection of photography from his world travels taken over the last half-century. Private Worlds reveals his exceptional eye for cultural landscapes. As Brad Knickerbocker of The Christian Science Monitor observes, "Photographs like these reflect humanity at its most soulful. That's Jack Schuman."

Jack earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in music. He took a year off to travel across Europe, hitchhiking and bicycling with a lute strapped to his back. Later, he earned a master of library science, and he has worked as a librarian at the Cleveland Art Institute, among other art museums.

It was an exhibit at The San Diego Museum of Art that inspired his passion for instrument collecting. Enthralled by a base mandola in the exhibit, Jack persuaded the owner to sell him the instrument for the grand sum of $400, paid in installments as he worked his way through school.

Jack returned to the University of London to earn a master of philosophy in art history. His flat near Carnaby Street was soon filled to the rafters with instruments as 1960s Beatlemania raged outside. He later moved back to the U.S. to earn a PhD in art history.

Jack's generous donation to SOU is inspiring. David Rogers, a Music Department faculty member and lutenist with the Terra Nova Consort, describes the collection as "a vibrant laboratory of interactive study of music, art, and culture of both traditional Western classical music and music from around the world." He continues, "There are similar instrument collections in London, Basel, Boston, and New York, but none that allow this free interaction with both the instruments and the societies that made them, making the Schuman Collection a truly unique treasure."


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