The V&A's Musical Instrument Collection

'Manxman' piano, designed by Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott for John Broadwood, about 1896, made about 1902-3. Museum no. W.15:1-1976

'Manxman' piano, designed by Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott for John Broadwood, about 1896. Museum no. W.15:1-1976

As a museum of the decorative arts, the V&A acquired its musical instruments and has displayed them as works of art rather than to tell the history of music. This is the context in which they are currently shown in the Furniture Gallery, British Galleries and the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. In line with this longstanding approach, further instruments will be displayed in the new Europe 1600-1800 Galleries when they open in 2014.

Gallery 40a, which previously housed musical instruments, closed to the public on 22 February 2010 as part of the V&A’s continuing programme of gallery renewal. The Museum has since refurbished the area as part of the programme for enhancing its displays of fashion and the history of dress.

The V&A made significant loans to the Horniman Museum which has a nationally designated collection of musical instruments.

The V&A also expects to lend to a number of other British institutions. In the interim, the musical instrument collection will be accessible by appointment as part of the Museum's Study Collections at Blythe House , Kensington Olympia.

Music has played a key part in many of the V&A’s exhibitions and permanent displays. The Listening Gallery  was a collaborative project between the Royal College of Music and the V&A in 2008-2010. Stemming from research in music, art, design, and technology, the project connected objects in the V&A's collections with music that shares their rich and distinctive pasts.

The Musical Instrument Catalogue

You can download the V&A's Musical Instrument Catalogue here. The Catalogue has been divided into separate sections to enable quicker downloading.

Download: V&A Catalogue of Musical Instruments - Keyboard Instruments (PDF file, 17.0 MB)

Download: V&A Catalogue of Musical Instruments - Stringed Instruments (PDF file, 5.6 MB)

Download: V&A Catalogue of Musical Instruments - Wind Instruments (PDF file, 1.7 MB)

Download: V&A Catalogue of Musical Instruments - Plates - Stringed Instruments (PDF file, 15.5 MB)

Download: V&A Catalogue of Musical Instruments - Plates - Wind Instruments (PDF file, 2.7 MB)

Download: V&A Catalogue of Musical Instruments - Index & Bibliography (PDF file, 823 KB)

Private Group Tours & Talks

We offer a wide range of tours to meet your group requirements. Whether a group has a special area of interest, wishes to explore a particular gallery or just get an overview of the Museum's collection the Groups Team can help.

View our Private Group Tours & Talks

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Sat 14 March 2015–Sun 19 July 2015

EXHIBITION: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty will showcase McQueen’s visionary body of work. Spanning his 1992 MA graduate collection to his unfinished A/W 2010 collection, McQueen’s designs will be presented with the dramatic staging and sense of spectacle synonymous with his runway shows.

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