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“It’s a partial solution to a much larger problem, and that’s because the ideal museum is where everything is in the same environment,” he said. “The collection is a huge burden financially to try and operate it and staff it, let alone trying to get a site on the university master plan to try to get a building.”

Even amid the struggle for space, Ball said the collection has received three or four major gifts of instruments since he came on board a few years ago, and grew by about 250 instruments in the past year.

“That’s the only way for the collection to move forward,” Ball said. “That’s the only way for us to maintain our relevance.”

Ball said his mission _ and the university’s _ should be to honor Stearns‘ wishes and provide the instruments with a permanent, appropriate home, preferably one where barn critters have never roamed.

“For them to deteriorate and no longer be able to give joy to eye or ear in any way, that’s perhaps the greatest tragedy,” he said.