At the very beginning of the Brussels Musical Instruments Museum's creation two collections of instruments were joined together.
One belonged to the celebrated Belgian musicologist Franois-Joseph Ftis (1784-1871), was bought by the Belgian government in 1872 and put on deposit in the Conservatory where Ftis was the first director. The other was offered to King Leopold II in 1876 by the Rajah Sourindro Mohun Tagore (1840-1914) and comprises about a hundred Indian instruments.
With these two original collections, the mim was already remarkably rich for its time. But its first curator, Victor-Charles Mahillon (1841-1924) was considerably to augment its collections, thus placing it among the finest in the world.
At his death in 1924, the mim counted some 3666 articles, among which 3177 were original musical instruments. A collector and maker of wind instruments and a noted acoustics expert, Mahillon performed his job with an enthusiasm, competence and dynamism that exceeded any of the expectations that his purely honorary title might have aroused.
Thanks to his activity and connections, the museum rapidly gained international fame, not only for the quantitative importance of its collections but also for their diversity, and for the quality and rarity of the items brought together.