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About the Museum

Dias guitar detail
The Royal College of Music Museum maintains one of the richest and most relevant collections of music-related objects in the UK and Europe. Standing in excess of 15,000 items, it represents a range of music-making activities over a period of more than five centuries.

Explore South Kensington's Museum of Music

After undergoing extensive redevelopment, the Museum is reopening to the public in October 2021. As an interactive space, it hosts regular performances by RCM musicians and the opportunity for you to create your own music in the Weston Discovery Centre. As well as musical instruments, the Museum tells its story through art, including an iconic portrait of Farinelli and a remarkable Tischbein featuring an instrument from the collection displayed alongside.

A series of portraits by celebrated German artist Milein Cosman is on display to the public for the first time in the Lavery Gallery, featuring intimate sketches of RCM alumni Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Imogen Holst and Amaryllis Fleming, alongside many other composers and musicians.

There are three key areas – Music is Creation, Music is Craft and Music is Performance – each exploring phases of the creative process from the birth of a new idea, its realisation through craftsmanship, to performance. In the Museum’s beautiful double-height atrium space, a hanging artwork installation by Scottish artist Victoria Morton takes its inspiration from the permanent exhibition, having been specially commissioned and created for the space.

Explore the history of music wherever you are

The Museum collection is publicly available in several free digital exhibitions released online. These specially curated exhibitions explore the core collection and spotlight particular items, composers and themes represented strongly in the Museum.

Also available online is the RCM Library’s extensive collection; together, the Royal College of Music’s Museum and Library collections were awarded prestigious designated status by Arts Council England in recognition of their outstanding cultural significance.

The Museum as education

The valuable historical artefacts held by the Museum are often the focus of teaching and other RCM activities, particularly in Historical Performance and Research. Many of the instruments are in playing condition and often brought to life in performance by RCM students and professors.

Through the collection we are able to support learning in a very tangible way, offering students the vital opportunity to engage directly with music history and the RCM’s impressive legacy. Furthermore, extensive conservation and digitisation ensures the collection remains protected and accessible to a wide range of people for generations to come.

National Lottery Heritage Fund support

The Royal College of Music Museum has recently undergone a major redevelopment, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which awarded a £3.6 million grant in October 2016, and forms part of a larger £40 million philanthropic investment in the future of music education. In addition to a new Museum, the RCM has built new performance and rehearsal spaces, improved access, implemented more scholarships and an expanded infrastructure for teaching and digital innovation.

Find out more

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