Emanuel Winternitz

Emanuel Winternitz (Vienna, 4 August 1898–New York City, 20 August 1983) was an Austrian -born museum professional who became the first curator of the Department of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.


Born in Austria, Winternitz served in World War I. He then practiced law in Vienna in the 1920s and 1930s.

Winternitz emigrated to the United States in 1938, after the Anschluss. In 1941, He started work at the Metropolitan as a lecturer. He became "Keeper" of the instruments the following year, and was named Curator in 1949 when Musical Instruments was made a curatorial department.

At the Department of Musical Instruments, Winternitz was responsible for saving the musical instruments collection from a plan to turn them over to a Music Library proposed by Juilliard.[1][2] He was also a musical instruments researcher, credited as the "father of the field of musical iconography".[3]

In 1973 Winternitz was named curator emeritus at the museum. He continued to teach at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York until his death.[4]


  1. ^ Kopp, Leslie Hansen (2004). "Music Forgotten and Remembered: The Life and Times of Emanuel Winternitz". Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography. 29 (1–2): 6–13. JSTOR 41818747. Emanuel Winternitz (1898-1983), the distinguished curator of musical instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than forty years, was the father of the field of musical iconography...
  2. ^ Lindsey, Rebecca M. (2015-01-09). "A Harmonious Ensemble Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum, 1884–2014, Emanuel Winternitz and the Renaissance of the Collection". metmuseum.atavist.com. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 29 November 2016. ...Winternitz's hard work to save the musical instruments for the Museum seemed on the point of fruition when the war was over. Director Taylor announced a grand plan for the modernization of the Museum in the winter of 1945–6...Soon afterwards, in 1949, Winternitz was named full curator, and the Department of Musical Instruments, for the first time ever, was officially a department of the same standing as all other Museum curatorial departments.
  3. ^ Hughes, Allen (24 August 1983). "EMANUEL WINTERNITZ, MET MUSEUM CURATOR". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  4. ^ In his will, he left his archives consisting of documents, working materials of his writings, and photographs, to the Research Center for Music Iconography of the Graduate Center, City University of New York. The center also owns a manuscript of his unpublished memoires The luggage of an immigrant. His complete publications are available here https://gc-cuny.academia.edu/EmanuelWinternitz.