Royal Academy of Music Museum
The Royal Academy of Music was founded in 1822 and is the oldest music conservatoire in the United Kingdom. Devoted to educating and training many of the world’s greatest musicians, it has gathered precious artefacts and intriguing stories along the way. The Museum is an integral part of Academy life. Fascinating objects are displayed and engaging stories told through its permanent galleries and programme of changing temporary displays. The Museum regularly holds lecture-recitals, seminars, workshops, special events and family activities, all open to the public for free.
The Museum has three galleries and a temporary exhibition space. The Ground floor gallery looks at the origins of the Royal Academy of Music, tracing its journey to the present day. Visitors can follow the timeline wall to discover highlights of Academy activity across the years. Find out how musical history was shaped here against a backdrop of Victorian social reform, two World Wars and the Swinging Sixties, and how today’s Academy continues to influence music at home and abroad. The building, uniform and repertoire may have changed since 1822, but the Academy’s mission remains the same – to enrich musical heritage through the education and training of talented young musicians, to promote research and create new music.
Strings have been at the heart of music for hundreds of years. The Strings Gallery based on the first floor is devoted to a lively display of stringed instruments, of all shapes and sizes. The Academy’s collection ranges geographically from local London craftsmen to influential Cremonese makes such as Antonio Stradivari and the Amati family. Our star instrument is the ‘Viotti ex-Bruce’ 1709 violin by Antonio Stradivari, once owned by Giovanni Battista Viotti, personal violinist to Queen Marie Antoinette. On some weekdays you can peer into the glass-walled strings workshop and see the Academy’s team of skilled luthiers at work: expert staff who preserve and maintain our collection of over 250 stringed instruments.
Walk through 400 years of keyboard instrument history in the Piano Gallery on the second floor. This gallery follows the keyboard instrument’s lively evolution from the early 17th to the early 20th centuries. Our oldest instrument is an Italian virginal from c.1600-1650 and the collection culminates with a 1920 Steinway grand piano. The displays explore the keyboard across four different locations – the home, the stage, the workshop and the Academy itself – to see how domestic music-making, grand concerts, craftsmanship and virtuoso performers have all influenced the development of the instrument. Our Gallery Assistants add a special dimension to this space. When they demonstrate our keyboards the historical soundscape is brought to life. There is a piano technicians’ workshop where our experts work on modern and historic pianos.
The Royal Academy of Music’s museum and collections contribute to music’s capacity to inspire, unite, console and stimulate using its eminent collections of instruments, art, photography, manuscripts and scores.