A taus (stringed instrument) from India, made before 1884.

Royal College of Music Museum uncovers Hidden Treasures in new exhibition

Tuesday 25 January 2022

The Royal College of Music (RCM) Museum boasts a vast collection, numbering more than 15,000 items which document over five centuries of musical history. From Sunday 23 January the RCM Museum presents some of its collection in its second temporary exhibition: Hidden Treasures of the RCM Collections. The new exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to discover some unique treasures including long unseen artworks, historic manuscripts, and musical instruments with special histories.

The new Royal College of Music Museum opened in October 2021 and the permanent display consists of 58 carefully curated objects including the world’s earliest guitar and earliest stringed keyboard instrument, plus Milein Cosman artworks on public display for the first time. The beautiful displays and storytelling were critically acclaimed with the Evening Standard describing the Museum as ‘An enchanting snippet of music history.’ The Museum is the only museum of music in the Exhibition Road area, making it a unique addition to the cultural landscape of South Kensington providing unparalleled insights into the history of music.

Throughout the year the RCM Museum will present a rolling series of specially curated temporary exhibitions. The items chosen for the new Hidden Treasures exhibition represent or belonged to key figures in international music history, including RCM alumni. Highlights of the exhibition include Sir Jacob Epstein’s sculpted bust of former student Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose 150th anniversary will be celebrated in the College’s Spring performance programme. Other artworks on display include what is thought to be the earliest known portrait of Franz Liszt, drawn when the composer was 16 and a drawing of Guilhermina Suggia by Augustus John, which is likely a study for his famous portrait of the cellist. These artworks join Edward Elgar’s trombone, a selection of rare instruments of British and Indian origin and personal items from the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor collection.

Professor Gabriele Rossi Rognoni, Curator of the Royal College of Music Museum, said: ‘It is wonderful to share this selection of highlights which showcase the breadth of our Museum and Library collections. The exhibition is a rare opportunity to see instruments that were commissioned and donated to the College by the Indian Raja Sourindro Mohun Tagore in celebration of Queen Victoria.’

Hidden Treasures of the Royal College of Music Museum is open now. Entry to the exhibition is free though a ticket is required. Museum entry can be booked online and some tickets will be available on the door without prior registration.

The RCM Museum is open Tuesday–Friday, 10.15am-5.45pm and Saturday–Sunday, 11am-6pm. The Museum also hosts a series of intimate concerts featuring RCM musicians performing amongst the artefacts. These take place on Friday lunchtimes and tickets can be booked online.

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