Take a look at these exclusive pictures of instruments from London’s newest museum

After its initial opening date was thwarted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Royal College of Music (RCM) finally opened its new museum on 5 October, offering visitors the opportunity to interact with over 500 years of musical history.

The curator of the Royal College of Music Museum, professor Gabriele Rossi Rognoni, had the challenge of selecting 56 instruments from the 15,000 items in the RCM’s collection to feature on permanent display. All instruments are in playable condition, which include the world’s oldest guitar and earliest keyboard instrument with strings, as well as distinct string instruments. A 1661 viola by Enrico Catenar, found in the basement of the RCM has been fully restored and will be used in future performance projects by RCM viola students. It sits alongside an unusual shaped viola attributed to Giovanni and Francesco Grancino, 1685.

Also included in the the permanent display are a baryton by Magnus Feldlen of Vienna from 1647 and three decorated viols. An artwork installation by Scottish artist Victoria Morton hangs over the permanent display, commissioned and created specifically for the space.

Originally due to open in spring 2021, the new Royal College of Music Museum was built from scratch as part of the RCM’s £40 million four-year campus transformation project. The renovated areas bring public access into the institution, alongside a new public café and two new performance spaces.

Rognoni, who is also professor of material culture and music, says, ’‘The Royal College of Music Museum will be a wonderful addition to London’s cultural scene and I can’t wait to finally invite visitors to experience our quirky, living, breathing collection first-hand. The Museum will not be a quiet, stuffy place but a space filled with music; our artefacts were made to be played and heard after all!’

The museum provides an additional learning space, where students studying at the institution will have access to the instruments and resident experts, complimenting their research and study with first-hand experience. The new Wolfson Centre in Music & Material Culture will house more of the Museum’s collection and facilitate on-site conservation work. Students will be able to volunteer for Museum-led educational activities aimed at primary, secondary and home-educated children.

The Museum has been designed by ZMMA, multiple award-winning architects specialising in museum and exhibition design, whose projects include the Museum of the Home’s new Home Galleries; V&A Europe 1600-1815 Galleries; V&A Dundee Scottish Design Galleries; William Heath Robinson Museum and Watts Gallery.

Entry to the RCM Museum is free though a ticket is required. These can be booked online and some tickets will be available on the door.

Read: Photo gallery: the decorated instruments of Leonardo Frigo

Read: Gallery: A violin made out of shredded money