A highlight from the Royal College of Music Museum collection

Royal College of Music collections awarded prestigious Designated status

Friday 29 January 2021

The Royal College of Music’s internationally renowned collection of musical materials has been awarded prestigious Designated status by Arts Council England (ACE). Awarded to collections that form a vital part of England’s culture and artistic heritage, the Designation Scheme is a mark of distinction celebrating a collection’s outstanding cultural value, uniqueness and national importance.

The Royal College of Music collection comprises over one million items, including 15,000 instruments, portraits, images and engravings held by the Royal College of Music Museum. The remaining material is held in the RCM Library and includes manuscripts, prints, letters, concert programmes and books. Designation highlights the important cultural value of these items, which give fascinating insight into the past, present and future of music.

As part of a recent £40million transformation of the RCM campus in South Kensington, the Royal College of Music Museum gained a brand-new home for its collection, including permanent displays of some of its most treasured items. Members of the public will be able to view the world’s earliest guitar and earliest known stringed keyboard instrument up close, experience interactive installations and hear live performances on historic instruments when the Museum opens.

The RCM Library collection includes the original manuscripts of Sir Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem, Mozart’s C minor Piano Concerto, Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Chopin’s Minute waltz. The Library also houses the Anne Boleyn Music Book, one of the most significant manuscripts of the early 16th century, believed to have been owned by Anne Boleyn.

Both the full Library catalogue and several virtual exhibitions featuring treasured items from across the RCM Collection are available to explore online.

Dr Stella Butler, Chair of the Designation Panel, said: ‘The Designation Scheme plays a critical role in raising the profile of nationally and internationally significant collections throughout England. I’m delighted that the scheme is recognising the Royal College of Music’s extensive and fascinating collection and hope this spotlight safeguards it for the enjoyment and enrichment of many generations to come.’ 

Professor Gabriele Rossi Rognoni, Curator of the Royal College of Music Museum, comments: ‘We are proud that the Royal College of Music collections have been awarded Designated status at an exciting time for the RCM, when we are preparing to launch our new Royal College of Music Museum. The Museum and Library collections are the result of a long commitment by the College to build on our heritage in order to inform, promote and safeguard the future of music and this prestigious accolade will further boost our energy to share them as widely as possible.’

RCM Libarian, Peter Linnitt comments: ‘The Royal College of Music’s founders understood how collected material gives musicians greater insight into the subject and the breadth of our collection offers myriad ways of illustrating this. We continue to develop our collections, not least with archives related to alumni and teachers, and Designation will support this. It is an honour to work with this incredible collection and to support our students, performers and scholars from around the world.’

Since 1997, Arts Council England’s Designation Scheme has identified the best collections held in museums, libraries and archives across England. The Scheme identifies and celebrates outstanding collections which deepen our understanding of the world, aiming to raise the profile of these vital collections and encourage safeguarding for the future.

More about the Royal College of Music Collections

More about the Designation Scheme on the Arts Council England website

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