Published: Mon Nov 25, 2013
Over the years, Morris has acquired more than 2,000 tuba figurines, statues, sculptures and paintings. The Guinness Book of World Records noticed, and recently gave him the title for “largest collection of tuba-related items.”
“The application was like a doctoral dissertation; it took me two years to complete,” Morris said. “It was two inches thick, plus I had to videotape two expert witnesses and I had to take individual photos of thousands of items.”
Those items include a pig holding a tuba, a sculpture of a woman holding a tuba made of copper wire, Hummel figurines with tubas, crystal tubas and a clay sculpture of Morris playing made by a former student at TTU’s Appalachian Center for Craft.
Before he won the record, he had to convince Guinness World Records that the largest tuba collection should be in its annual book.
The first tuba figure of his collection was a small lead soldier a student gave him in the early 1970s. Morris had never seen a figurine with a tuba and the result, he said, was that he went “ballistic.”
Some of his tubas are gifts, but Morris finds most of them himself at flea markets, antique malls or online. He says he discourages people from buying him tuba figurines because he gets so many duplicates, and he removed several hundred of them from his collection during the Guinness application process.
In 2016, the entire collection will be transferred to TTU for a permanent public display. Morris will donate it to mark the 50th year of the TTU tuba program, and his 50th year as an instructor here. Many TTU tuba alumni are raising money to maintain and display the collection after the donation is made.
“When you get to be my age, you stop thinking about collecting things and more about getting rid of them,” he said. “I had a few people interested in buying it, but I thought if I sell it to one of these guys, then they transfer it to wherever they are and then they die and then what happens? The collection disappears.
“The bottom line is this will be a permanent exhibit at the university that will be open to the public during business hours,” he said.