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Royal Academy of Music Museum

London, England

Royal Academy of Music Museum

The Royal Academy of Music Museum displays and interprets musical instruments and acts as the research center for the world-renowned Royal Academy of Music. Founded in 1822, it trains students from 50 countries in 20 musical disciplines every year. The goal of its museum and collections—instruments, art, photography, manuscripts, and scores—is to highlight music’s capacity to inspire, unite, console, and stimulate.

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RAA was commissioned to design 3 galleries of permanent installations in the landmarked building designed by John Nash. Our approach was to highlight the beauty and curiosity of the instruments themselves, while using images and interpretation to provide insight into the creative process of great musicians.

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Royal Academy of Music Museum_4

Visitors can view rare treasures dating from the sixteenth century to the present day: Amati, Cremonese, and Stradivari violins and original scores by composers such as Purcell and Elgar. A window provides a view into a luthiers’ workshop that keeps the instruments in playing condition; daily programs attract students, teachers, and visitors.

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A flexible mounting system for the museum’s temporary-exhibition gallery facilitates the updating of exhibits, many of them designed by RAA. A key challenge was to enable active use of the collections today, while responsibly preserving them for tomorrow. Students have access to historical instruments and even perform live for visitors.

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The goal was to showcase the collection in a way that makes it part of a living institution, complementing the lecture-recitals, seminars, workshops, special events, and family activities all open to the public for free.

Size 5,000 square feet

Year 2002

Architect John McAslan & Partners