The Music Gallery at Horniman Museum, a Must See by Donna Harris


Music Gallery at Horniman Museum Indoor Sign
Music Gallery at Horniman Museum Indoor Sign


The Music Gallery at The Horniman Museum, a Must See. In 2018, I first visited what fast became one of my favourite museum exhibitions of all time. I recommend that you consider this museum for a day out yourself.


Located in south east London, it is truly unique. The gallery contains musical instruments throughout history from around the world. You have never seen an exhibition like this before!


As the website states, there are more than 1,300 musical instruments at the Horniman, the largest collection of musical instruments in the UK.


Every group of instruments is represented: keyboards, woodwinds, strings, brass, and percussion. Let’s take a look at the keyboard family. 


The First Instrument in the Keyboard Family: The Church Organ
            The First Instrument in the Keyboard Family: The Chamber Organ


The music gallery: The Early Keyboard Family


In the Music Gallery we see examples of instruments from the keyboard family which developed in the following order: the church organ, virginals & spinets, harpsichords, clavichords, pianos, keyboards, synthesizers, and a digital piano. 


Though accordions or concertinos are not quite keyboard instruments, because they rely on air to function, I thought they were worth a look too.


As I have mentioned previously on my website, my dad was very supportive of my music skills as well as my education. The accordion was his instrument in his youth. This exhibition really treats us to a hearty collection of instruments in this family.


Sadly, we don’t hear samples of many keyboard instruments in the Music Gallery. Some of them are closed, so we do not get to see what they look like inside. It would be nice to see what the harpsichord looks like inside  and how it sounds compared to a spinet and a virginal.


We do, however, see that some look like works of art, and it is good to see the progression of the keyboard through time. Take a look at my video for highlights.


You can learn more about these instruments from Morley Pianos, also in south east London. Morley Pianos not only sells and rents pianos, but also early keyboard instruments. 


Visit Morley Pianos‘ website to learn which of the famous male composers used each version of the keyboard in his time. 


The Spinet, an Early Keyboard Instrument at The Horniman Museum
The Spinet, Popular from 16th century in Italy, France, & England


The Music GAllery: International Instruments


There is plenty of information to read specifically about the instruments on display in the Music Gallery, as well as how they fit in a historical or cultural context. In additional, audio and visual clips provide a wonderful atmosphere of international music and culture through time. 


Opportunities to be interactive with some of the instruments include a Hands On Space Room containing musical instruments to try out including a digital piano, a dulcimer, and instruments from the Americas, and Africa.  


The Hands On Space Room is especially popular with children, though teens and adults can benefit from hands-on exploration of some of the instruments for sure. 


This exhibition is wonderful for all ages. You can find out how to book a workshop as a school group here  Maybe someone you know could benefit from this gallery.


Electronic stations are another opportunity to be interactive with the instruments. There, you can select various instruments to listen to and read about. Check out my video for an example of one. Can you name the artist of the 1980s song that you hear?


Summer is going fast. If you will be in London, I advise you to visit this free museum exhibition before it ends!


The Famous Rhodes Keyboard Horniman Museum
The Famous Rhodes Keyboard Popular with Jazz and Pop Artists

the music gallery: modern instruments 


I’m sure you will agree that The Music Gallery at Horniman is one of the best museums you can visit if you love music and history, or love learning about other cultures.


In addition, what better place can you visit during summer to stay cool and enjoy some escapism?


But if you are unable to make it before summer ends, I’m sure you will enjoy your visit at any time of year.


Check out this article from earlier this year for another of my favourite places to visit. 


You will be glad you did.


Horniman Museum & Gardens


100 London Road, Forest Hill

London SE23 3PQ


Visit the organisation’s website or call for updated details.


Hit the red button below to fill out the contact form to be considered for a complimentary demo lesson with me if you are passionate about learning to play the piano or the keyboard.