Museum of National Musical Instruments, Almaty

Music is a soul of people embodied in elegant rows of notes and bars, international language comprehensible to anybody called to erase borders between people and countries.

Kazakh ethnos is a carrier of rich culture and ancient history. Music plays important role in everyday life of this nation; it is the reflection of the spiritual world, its aspirations: restless sounds of dombra (a long-necked lute and a musical string instrument) picture endless Kazakh steppes or frisky run of a bay horse; melodic song of akyn (poet, singer and improviser of traditional songs) build a firm connection between the past and present.

Keeping musical traditions is one of the most important tasks of the Museum of national musical instruments named after Ykylas that opened its doors in 1980 in the eastern suburbs of the Panfilov Park in Almaty. The museum occupied a wooden building constructed in 1908, at the same time with the Zenkov Cathedral nearby. The wooden house resembles a typical traditional Russian construction. Initially, during the period when Russia was ruled by Tsars, the building served as a meetings venue of the army administration, later was transformed into Official House and finally became a museum.

The museum was named in honor of Ykylas Dukenov, People’s Composer, one of the founders of musical school of kobyz (an ancient Kazakh string instrument with two strings made of horsehair). The collection presents over 1000 objects including rare exhibits dating back to the 17th century. There are in total 60 types of national instruments: kobyz, dombras, syldyrmak (tambourine like national instrument) as well other nations’ instruments.

After studying exhibition halls you will have a complete picture about the history of the Kazakh nation, evolution of musical art, traditions and the folklore. Visitors also might listen to the sounds of demonstrated instruments. The museum has an ethnographic ensemble “Sazgen sazi” that will take you to an amazing world of steppe motives.