Celebrating our redevelopment

A male student playing the trumpet, with historical instruments on display in a red room, in the background.
Between 2017 - 2021, the Royal College of Music Museum has undergone a major development. This produced a new purpose-built gallery which opened in October 2021, a hands-on discovery area, the Weston Discovery Centre, access to a climate-controlled performance space (the Performance Studio) and a dedicated research area (the Wolfson Centre in Music & Material Culture).

The development project (2017-2021) was part of the RCM’s wider More Music campaign and was supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which awarded a £3.6 million grant in October 2016.

What we did

Our primary aim was to preserve, understand and share our collections. The aims have been met in the following areas.

Designing a new gallery

We have worked with partners to create a new purpose-built gallery, enabling us to showcase our musical treasures to a new and wider audience. The prospect of a new space, with improved accessibility and renovated displays, offers a unique opportunity to rethink the role of the gallery within the Royal College of Music and the wider cultural scene.

Conservation & digitisation

By digitising more than 14,000 objects in our collection, we have provided access for more people to view many of these objects in our online catalogue and in our digital exhibitions hosted by Google Arts & Culture. 

As well as a careful programme of conservation, we have prepared more than 500 musical instruments, paintings and engravings for the displays in our new building and research centre. Each instrument in the collection has been carefully considered in terms of its playability and the state of its preservation.

Researching & documenting collections

We have been undertaking a number of focussed projects that have led to a better understanding and interpretation of our musical instruments, artworks and engravings, which have informed current research and enrich future exhibitions.

We recanted most of our items to the Wolfson Centre in Music & Material Culture, bringing easy access to the Museum’s collections for the purpose of research by RCM professors, students and external researchers. Over 30 collections volunteers helped us to inventory and digitise thousands of items.

Learning & participation

We produced activities and events for families, teachers, as well as taking our stories beyond the Royal College of Music in roadshows and relaxed concerts.

We developed our educational activities and tested them through an exciting programme of workshops, concerts and lectures organised in partnerships with other cultural venues, colleges, libraries, museums and schools in London.

Coordinating & developing projects

We continue to coordinate the MINIM-UK project, which provides a single access point to more than 20,000 musical instruments selected from those preserved in collections across the UK, including the RCM’s.

Find out more

Find out more about the development and unveiling the new Royal College of Music Museum through our playlist, featuring interviews with artists and conservators who contributed to our new gallery, and music performed on our historic musical instruments.

Watch our playlist Unveiling the Royal College of Music Museum

Exploring the Royal College of Music Museum

Watch an interview with Professor Gabriele Rossi Rognoni, Curator of the Royal College of Music Museum, discussing the redevelopment of the gallery and some of the musical treasures in the collection.

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