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Music Gallery

Over 1300 instruments from the Horniman's internationally renowned collection can be seen in the Music Gallery. Its breathtaking display spans a wide range of instruments from around the world, making up the largest number on display in the UK.

The gallery also features short films linking instruments on display to the cultures and contexts in which they are played around the world.

Interactive sound tables offer the chance to listen to the sounds of your favourite instruments, and make some new discoveries, while the Hands On Space allows everyone the chance to make some music of their own.

Music Gallery displays:

  • At Home With Music: a new display for 2014 which tells the stories of the keyboard instruments we have invited into our homes
  • The rhythms of life: a glimpse of how music and musical instruments accompany the milestones of life around the world, from Yoruba naming ceremonies to weddings in Uzbekistan and funerals in Cameroon
  • The ideal sound: explores how instruments are made and developed and the roles that musicians, makers and inventors play in this process through the following themes.
  • Seeking sounds: the creation of the English concertina by Charles Wheatstone
  • Sound designs: instrument-making at Boosey & Hawkes
  • Trading sounds: the migration of people and musical instruments, from the African diaspora to the music of the Americas
  • Listening to order: this classification display groups instruments from around the world according to how they produce sound, while the Carse Collection traces the development of wind instruments from the 18th through the 20th centuries

The Music Gallery displays include objects from the Dolmetsch, Wayne, Adam Carse, Percy Bull and Boosey & Hawkes Collections. Find out more about them on our Collections pages.

At Home With Music

This Music Gallery display explores the smaller keyboard instruments that, over the centuries, we have invited into our homes.

At Home With Music features rare and beautiful instruments from both the Horniman and the Victoria & Albert Museum collections, including all types of keyboard instruments: organs, harpsichords, virginals, spinets, pianos and clavichords.

Each instrument has its own stories to tell, with the new display bringing to light their inner workings, as well as their place in social and political history.

V&A Loan

Over 40 instruments are currently on loan to the Horniman from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Some of these can be seen in the Music Gallery in the At Home With Music display. 

How to get to the Music Gallery

Watch the short film below which shows you how to find the Music Gallery and the level of noise and lighting once inside:

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