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The Musical Museum

A Brief History

The Musical Museum was founded 60 years ago by the late Frank Holland. He started with his own private collection of some half-dozen reproducing pianos, and in 1963 he was given use of the former St George’s Church, Brentford to get the collection under one roof. He was initially allowed use of the premises for only two years, but the museum was still there 40 years later - as was Frank, who had moved into the vestry!

In 1966, the collection was formed into a Charitable Trust as The British Piano Museum, and in the early years, a number of famous pianists who had recorded rolls earlier in the century, came along to the Museum to hear themselves play.

During its existence, the Museum’s collection has grown steadily and it now encompasses a wide range of musical instruments and unique inventions which tell the story of how music was recorded and reproduced through the ages. The Museum has also built up a nationally significant (and growing) collection of over 20,000 music rolls, which are stored and actively curated in a purpose-built library.

The Building

The current building was specially designed for the Musical Museum, and was opened in June 2008. The shell of the building was funded by a Heritage Lottery Grant, and the transfer of the collection from the old building and the setting-up of the galleries was carried out entirely by volunteers. In addition to the instrument galleries and roll library, the Museum contains a workshop, concert hall, and a café with views of the river. 

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Our Vision & Mission

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Our Mission

 

To enable current and future generations of visitors to engage with, take pleasure in and learn from the history and development of music reproduction, challenging their perceptions and enriching their lives.

 

Our Charitable Objectives

To advance the education of the public through the operation of a museum which:

  • conserves, preserves, and develops nationally important collections related to the history of music reproduction for the benefit of the enjoyment and educational advancement of the public and the visitors to the museum;

  • informs, engages and entertains the public regarding the evolution of music reproduction through the use of self-playing instruments, and the provision of educational and musical demonstrations, talks, exhibitions, live performances and other forms of information and written communication;

  • conserves, preserves, promotes and presents the theatre pipe organ as an instrument with a significant role in the development of light music on radio and in the cinema and as a musical art form through concerts and silent films


Delivering the Vision


In order to deliver our vision, the activities of the Museum include:

  • The creation of exhibitions, displays and performances that provide the narrative of the development of musical reproduction

  • The provision of opportunities for interaction with the collections through talks, demonstrations, concerts and where possible hands-on experiences

  • The development of training skills in understanding the technology, conservation and restoration and skills in public presentation

  • The encouragement of research and publication of matters related to the collections


The Intended Outcomes

  • An appreciation of the social history of music reproduction in the UK

  • The arrival of new audiences who take pleasure from the Museum

  • The building of relationships with local communities, schools (including Special Schools) and interest groups to enjoy and benefit from the collections and their contribution to technology, design, craft, creative skills and musical appreciation

Our Priorities

  • Creating a sustainable financial future for the organisation

  • Growing a cross-generational and culturally diverse group of volunteer and visitors

  • Conserving items in the collection appropriately; maintaining the balance between preservation and restoration in line with best practice and available resources

  • Refreshing the skills, knowledge and expertise available to the Board

  • Building positive and productive relationships with other museums, the Local Authority, Arts Council and other relevant societies and organisations

  • Supporting local and national initiatives that develop awareness of the Museum and align to our charitable objectives

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