The museum consists in several founds, the largest one being the collection left by the tenor Evan Gorga (1865-1957). Gorga was a lover of collecting: among the large quantity of pieces he collected the most important part was formed by musical instruments.
During his life, due to economical difficulties and space problems he was forced to deprive himself with of about a half of this collection. Nonetheless he left a group of about 3.000 pieces to State that, by a convention on 1949, agreed to pay his debts and to give him a life allowance.
After many vicissitueds, mainly due to the difficulties in finding a seat, the collection of musical instruments was gathered in a museum that was instituted in 1974 in Rome on the initiative of Luisa Cervelli, who directed it until she was succeeded by Antonio Latanza, the current director. During this period some important musical instruments have been acquired, among these there are the Barberini enharmonic harp, dating back to early 17th century, and a piano by Bartolomeo Cristofori.
At present the museum patrimony comprises about 3.000 pieces: 840 of them are exposed in the 18 halls of the first floor, the remaining ones are shared between the second floor and the store.
Besides the instruments of the western music the collection includes a section devoted to instruments of ancient cultures (Egyptian, Greek, Roman) and one to instruments of non-European countries (China, Japan, Laos, India, Arabia, Turkey, Persia, America, Africa, Oceania).