Music Gallery

More than 1,300 objects from the Horniman's internationally-renowned collection of musical instruments displayed in a breathtaking and interactive gallery.

The breath taking display spans a wide range of instruments from around the world.  The gallery features the largest number of musical instruments on display in the UK.

Watch short films linking instruments on display to the cultures and contexts in which they are played around the world.

Interactive sound tables offer the chance to listen to the sounds of your favourite instruments, and make some new discoveries. 

Music Gallery displays

  • At Home With Music – a display telling the stories of the keyboard instruments we have invited into our homes. This Music Gallery display explores the smaller keyboard instruments that, over the centuries, we have invited into our homes.This display features rare and beautiful instruments from both the Horniman and the Victoria & Albert Museum collections, including all types of keyboard instruments: organs, harpsichords, virginals, spinets, pianos and clavichords. Each instrument has its own stories to tell, with the display bringing to light their inner workings, as well as their place in social and political history.
  • The rhythms of life – a glimpse of how music and musical instruments accompany the milestones of life around the world, from Yoruba naming ceremonies to weddings in Uzbekistan and funerals in Cameroon.
  • The ideal sound – explore how instruments are made and developed, and the roles that musicians, makers and inventors play in this process through the following themes:
    • Seeking sounds – the creation of the English concertina by Charles Wheatstone.
    • Sound designs – instrument-making at Boosey & Hawkes.
    • Trading sounds – the migration of people and musical instruments, from the African diaspora to the music of the Americas.
    • Listening to order – this classification display groups instruments from around the world according to how they produce sound, while the Carse Collection traces the development of wind instruments from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

The Music Gallery displays include objects from the Dolmetsch, Wayne, Adam Carse, Percy Bull and Boosey & Hawkes Collections. Find out more about them on our Collections pages.

Hands on Space

The Music Gallery Hands on Space is open 2pm–5.30pm on weekdays during term time, and from 10am–5.30pm at weekends and school holidays. Occasionally this space is closed for workshops.

V&A Loan

More than 40 instruments are currently on loan to the Horniman from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Some of these can be seen in the Music Gallery in the At Home With Music display. 

Don't miss the remarkable musical instrument collection once you're done with the stuffed animals!