The collection was established in 1964 on the initiative of the then chair holder, Professor Heinrich Husmann (1908-1983) as a teaching and research collection. Its foundation was laid by the private collection of 1,050 objects that had been gathered since the 1930s, by
- Hermann Johannes Moeck (1896-1982), instrument manufacturer and music publisher, Celle.
This was purchased by the state of Lower Saxony, with funds from the Volkswagen Foundation, for the University of Göttingen.
The Moeck collection stemmed from a collector's passion that was shaped both by Moeck's leading role in the revival of the recorder since the early 1930s and his close relationship with the German youth music movement as well as by the influence of the "Kulturkreis" theory -- an academic paradigm striving for a world history, that was then predominant among Anthropology, Comparative Musicology and Organology. On the one hand, this has led to a special interest in woodwind instruments, on the other hand, it resulted in an extremely broad variation of the collection in the ethnomusicological area, where much originated from the art trade, such as by the renowned Hamburg Africana dealers Kegel & Konietzko (valuable pieces from the Belgian Congo), but also in the integration of the private archaeoorganological collection of Hans Hickmann (ancient Egyptian objects).
Even before the purchase, the contents of several other private collections had come to Moeck's collection and had been integrated into it. These came from:
- Friedrich Chrysander (1826-1901), musicologist, Hamburg-Bergedorf
- Anni Gutt, music teacher, Ballenstedt am Harz
- Irmgard Pflüger, Japan
- Fritz Jöde (1887-1970), music pedagogue and leading figure in the German youth music movement ('Jugendmusikbewegung'), Hamburg, Leipzig, Berlin, Salzburg, Bad Reichenhall, Trossingen
- Dr. Fritz Bose (1906-1975), ethnomusicologist, Berlin
- Theodor Schäffer (1875-1945), architect, Munich // City of Offenbach am Main
- Prof. Dr. Hans Hickmann (1908-1968), musicologist, Cairo / Hamburg
- Alwin Krumscheid (1898-1976), high school teacher, Gießen an der Lahn
- Lore Kegel (1901-1980) & Boris Kegel-Konietzko (born 1925), Africana dealers, Hamburg-Blankenese, Brazzaville.
As a student of Friedrich Ludwig (Göttingen) and Johannes Wolf, Arnold Schering, Friedrich Blume, and Erich Moritz von Hornbostel (Berlin), Heinrich Husmann (1908-1983) strove for a fertile synthesis of the research approaches of "Historical", "Systematic" and "Comparative Musicology" (later "Ethnomusicology") and had cared in his days as an assistant in Leipzig from 1933-1939 for the rich collection of instruments in the Grassi Museum. As director, he initiated in 1964 -- in addition to the establishment of a psycho-acoustical laboratory -- the purchase of the Moeck collection for the Department of Musicology to create an institution in Göttingen providing the technical and personnel-wise requirements for it after the models of Berlin, Leipzig and Vienna. In an article published 1968 in Georgia Augusta he spoke out programmatically to integrate the collection into musicological research, focusing on the universal psycho-acoustic principles as well as the evolution of culture-specific tonal and harmonic systems and the key role of musical instruments as "generators of sound and of tonal systems" -- a groundbreaking idea, that should later play a central role in several research projects and monographs of the present curator of the collection, Klaus-Peter Brenner.
Since its founding in 1964, until the end of the 1970s, the collection has initially been extended only by sporadic opportunity purchases. Since the early 1980s, however, it was systematically expanded through the purchase of well-documented ethnomusicological field research collections. Single, especially important pieces were added through purchase or as permanent loans in the field of European historical woodwind and keyboard instruments. As a result of these expansions the number of objects in the collection has more than doubled. The most important collectors, whose collections have enriched the collection after 1964, are:
- Prof. Dr. Felix Hoerburger (1916-1997), ethnomusicologist, Regensburg
- Prof. Dr. Heide Nixdorff (*1941), cultural anthropologist (folklorist), Berlin / Dortmund
- Prof. Dr. Kurt Reinhard (1914-1979) und Ursula Reinhard (1915-2006), ethnomusicologists, Berlin
- Prof. Dr. Rudolf M. Brandl (1943-2018), ethnomusicologist, Berlin / Göttingen / Vienna
- Prof. Dr. Martin Staehelin (*1937), music historian, Basel / Bonn / Göttingen
- Dr. Robert Wildhaber (1902-1982), Basel, director of the Swiss Museum of Folklore
- Wolfgang Homann, retired District Court Director and retired Universitätsrat of the Georg-August-University Göttingen, and wife, Göttingen
- Dr. Klaus-Peter Brenner (*1958), ethnomusicologist, Göttingen, curator of the collection since 1992
- Prof. Dr. Manfred Bartmann (*1952), ethnomusicologist, Göttingen / Cologne / Salzburg
- Dr. Jürgen Schoepf (*1968), ethnomusicologist, Göttingen / Frankfurt / Vienna
- Dr. Hermann Alexander Moeck (1922-2010) and Sabine Haase-Moeck, musicologists, instrument manufacturers and music publishers, Celle, son and granddaughter of the main collector Johannes Hermann Moeck
- Dr. Heinrich Georg Kawinski (1930-2015), Grenzach-Wyhlen
- Helmut Kleint (1928-2015), highschool teacher and photo artist, Osnabrück / Göttingen (donation by Ursula Gerlach (*1931), music teacher, Göttingen)
- Prof. Dr. Ellen Hickmann (1934-2017), musicologist, Hannover, and once again (see above) Prof. Dr. Hans Hickmann (1908-1968), musicologist, Kairo/Hamburg (donation by Katharina Hickmann, Hannover, and Kei Hickmann, Göttingen)
- Dr. Pia Srinivasan, ethnomusicologist, Reinbek bei Hamburg
- Dr. jur. Gerd A. Habermann (1932-2016), Hamburg-Lemsahl-Mellingstedt (donation by Susanne Bär, née Habermann, Munich, and Eva Habermann)
- Prof. a. D. Dr. Uwe Gert Schlösser, botanist, and wife Gerhilde Schlösser, Göttingen
- Dr. Jochen Giesler (*1944), archaeologist, and wife Dr. Ulrike Giesler, achaeologist, Brühl, Vochem