An instrumental time journey through the Musical Museum

As a little girl I used to play a lot on my parents’ piano. By hearing and feeling it made me understand how to play, because at that time I could only read notes when I played the guitar. While I moved my fingers over the keys, my thoughts run free. It brought a certain form of relaxation with it. I still have that same experience. Musicality is a part in the family, I still remember how my grandfather regularly played some tunes when we visited them in Limburg. His son, my father, still plays and can improvise as the best. I certainly don’t have it from a stranger and hopefully my daughter will be the next.

Traditional Organs.
Classic toys for all ages.

Unfortunately, I had to leave my classical piano in the Netherlands a year ago, because it couldn’t be transported to England. Luckily, I’m now owner of a beautiful electric Yamaha with wooden keys, where I can even record and stream my music to my computer. The technique goes further and further straight from the living room these days, whereas a century ago it wasn’t so common to have a piano in your house. It was a thing for the elite, if you wanted piano music, then you had to go to the theater or a cafe. It’s a long musical history spread over the years, something that is beautifully displayed in the Musical Museum.

This museum in Brentford presents an extensive range of automatic instruments, including player pianos, orchestrions, orchestrelles and piano violin players. From the smallest Clockwork Musical Boxes to the Mighty Wurlitzer. Great to see how these self-playing instruments work, Lara found it almost enchanting. And if you’re crazy about technology and mechanics, it’s very fascinating to see how these instruments work from such a close distance.

Musical boxes.

We joined a guided tour which took about one and half hour. It’s not mandatory to participate in a guide tour, but I would recommend it if you want to gain additional insight into the history and want to see some demonstrations of the instruments. The museum displays few text and as a visitor you’re not authorized to touch or activate instruments. The guide can tell and show you anything about all the instruments. – For more information about the tours, click here.

The guide is demonstrating a player piano.
Exhibition room with a lot of player pianos, orchestrions, orchestrelles and piano violin players.

After an impressive tour on the ground floor, we moved upstairs, towards the theater. In addition to an impressive collection, the museum also offers a lively program with concerts, films and dance evenings. Please have a look on their website, if you want to know more about the events.

Lara standing in theatre. On stage you’ll see the magnificent Mighty Wurlitzer.

We closed our visit in the museum shop near the entrance. A treasure trove full of fun (old school) music gadgets. My eye fell on the Kazoo, a small bladder instrument that consists of a metal or plastic pipe with a paper membrane in the wall. When you sing a tone with a Kazoo in your mouth, the membrane vibrates and the sound is distorted. When I had the age of Lara, I used to play with it regularly. – You can imagine how the museum visit ended.

For more information about the collection, guided tours and other activities, I would like to refer you to the website of the Musical Museum.


Attraction Information

Venue Type
Indoor

Suitable for ages
Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12), Adults


Facilities
Parking available nearby – café – souvenir shop – (disabled) toilets available – wheelchair friendly – baby changing – buggy friendly – buggy park – theatre performances – cinema – venue hiring


Address & Contact
399 High St, Brentford TW8 0DU
For more information about the Musical Museum, click here
T: 020 8560 8108
E: visit@musicalmuseum.co.uk


Opening times
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday Closed
Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10:30am – 5pm
Also open during all Bank Holidays
Museum admissions (and Café) closes at 4pm

Guided Tours
Tuesday 11am & 3pm
Friday till Sunday 11am, 1pm & 3pm


Pricing
Adult £11
Kids (5-16) £5
Concession 60+ and students £9
Family ticket (2 adults + up to 3 children) £25
Entry to the River View Café is free.

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