He is painstakingly restoring every instrument from the 17th century archlute to one of only two "anacondas" in the world and admits the task is gargantuan.

There are around 5,500 musical instruments in the Edinburgh University collection and that are being tuned up for the reopening of their home in an unassuming spot in the Cowgate, when several hundred rare and important items will go on display together for the first time later this year.

Jonathan Santa Maria Bouquet is the Musical Instrument Museums of Edinburgh (MIMEd) Conservator and part of the group involved in the redevelopment of St Cecilia's Hall, which is also Scotland's oldest purpose-built concert hall and described as a true hidden gem.

He has recruited a small army of student volunteers to help with the work which can range from dusting an instrument or changing strings to a "full treatment".

The striking music venue is been situated in its present unobtrusive spot from 1763, and as well as a venue for concerts and events, it is also a musical instrument museum.

The instruments were previously housed across the Reid Concert Hall and St Cecilia's.

The exhibition will be of international importance and will come after a £6.5 million redevelopment of the A-listed designed by architect Robert Mylne, including a £100,000 facelift.

It is the Conservator's job to oversee the moving of all these instruments - which date from the 1500s - and clean and preserve them before they go on show when St Cecilia's re-opens to the public.

Among items being restored and prepared are an 18th century kit, which is a small violin, a 17th century archlute, an 1840 contrabass serpent, or anaconda - one of only two in the world - an exhibit showing 200 years of the development of the oboe and a cornet that was taken from St Cecilia's hall to be carefully conserved.

Mr Santa Maria Bouquet said that the collections comprise an "extensive array of musical instruments from very different periods, geographical regions, and social contexts".

He said: "Contrary to some of the comparable collections in the world, MIMEd maintains a significant portion of the instruments in playable condition.

"This provides an invaluable resource for musicians, researchers, and the general public to better understand and appreciate the music played on historical instruments, nonetheless, this involves a great responsibility, and a significant work load to keep the instruments in optimal conditions."

The Conservator, who has conservation internships and fellowships in distinguished institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museo degli Strumenti Musicali in Milan, and the National Music Museum in South Dakota, and he is working on a PhD in Organology at the Edinburgh University.

He said: "The new displays and layout of the museum will exhibit several hundred objects of MIMEd's collections, and all of them need to be ready to be displayed for the re-opening of the museum.

"Whilst the museum is closed to the public, I have undertaken the gargantuan task of treating every single object to be displayed: anything from dusting, cleaning, and changing strings, to full treatments that can involve several weeks of delicate and intensive work.

"To achieve this I have been working with volunteers and interns who can help to carry out those simple but time-consuming tasks, whilst learning and building up their curricula.

"By the time St Cecilia's Hall re-opens its doors to the public, the instruments will reflect all this work by looking as good as they deserve."