The Musical Museum

The Musical Museum in Brentford, West London, is the hidden gem that most visitors to the city often overlook. Its extensive collection of self-playing musical instruments, including pianolas, orchestrions, barrel organs, and many other fascinating objects, tell the captivating story of music.

The museum's current building was specially designed for the Musical Museum and opened in June 2008. A Heritage Lottery Grant funded the construction, and the transfer of the collection from the old building and the setting up of the galleries was carried out entirely by volunteers. As a result, the building offers the perfect viewing experience of the collection with ample space and well-designed galleries.

The museum boasts an impressive collection of over 20,000 music rolls stored and actively curated in a purpose-built library. This nationally significant music roll collection is still growing; visitors can browse through the collection and learn more about the history of mechanical music.

One of the museum's highlights is its collection of pianolas, also known as 'player pianos'. A type of piano that can play music on its own, using a mechanical or electronic system. This system reads and interprets pre-recorded music, which is stored on rolls of perforated paper or metal. These instruments were incredibly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The on display are various pianolas, including some still in working order.

Another highlight of the museum is its collection of orchestrions. These are large mechanical instruments that can imitate the sound of a full orchestra. The museum has several orchestrions on display, including a Wurlitzer Band Organ, which was once used in a fairground. Visitors can watch as the orchestrion plays, and even have a go at playing one themselves.

The museum also has a collection of barrel organs, which are mechanical instruments that use a rotating barrel to play music. The museum has several barrel organs on display, including a large 19th-century German organ that still plays beautifully. Visitors can watch as the barrel organ plays, and even have a go at playing one themselves.

In addition to the self-playing instruments, the museum also has many other fascinating objects related to the history of music. These include a collection of gramophones, phonographs, and several other mechanical musical instruments. The museum also has a library of sheet music, which visitors can browse through, and several displays that provide information about the history of mechanical music.

The museum regularly hosts concerts and events featuring live performances of the instruments in the collection and talks and lectures by experts in the field. The Musical Museum is a place for visitors to see the collection and for key-instrument enthusiasts to learn more about the history of mechanical music in an interactive and engaging way.

Overall, the Musical Museum is a fascinating and unique place that offers a glimpse into the history of mechanical music.

Museum Facilities


Audio Guide

Wheelchair Access


Tour Guide




Venue Hire

All information is drawn from or provided by the museums themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.