Christopher Frayling Officially Re-Opens The Musical Museum

By 24 Hour Museum | 29 May 2008
photo of a grand Wurlitzer organ

A Wurlitzer at the Musical Museum. Courtesy the Musical Museum

The Musical Museum has been officially re-opened in its new home in Brentford High Street, West London, by Chairman of the Arts Council, Sir Christopher Frayling.

For over 40 years the Musical Museum’s remarkable collection of automatic instruments was housed in St George’s Church in Brentford High Street. Its new purpose-built building allows people to get the best out of a collection that varies from the tiniest clockwork musical box to the ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’.

The museum re-opened its doors to the public for previews in November 2007, and the collection embraces an impressive array of sophisticated self-playing reproducing pianos, orchestrions, orchestrelles, residence organs and violin players.

Sir Christopher was able to hear some of the Imhof instruments, made by his great grandfather’s company in 1899, in action

“It is quite amazing to hear these instruments play as they were intended back in the Victorian age,” said Sir Christopher. “I was particularly pleased to be invited to open the museum because of my family connections. It is fascinating to see instruments made by my great grandfather’s company literally playing a key role in the museum’s astonishing collection, and to think of the ingenuity that went into their creation.”

photo of a gallery with many instruments including a large pipe organ

General view of the museum. Courtesy of the Musical Museum

The new museum building is arranged on three floors with four galleries on the ground floor in which working instruments are displayed. A street setting includes shop windows full of music, musical toys and street instruments whilst another gallery contains exhibits that illustrate how music was ‘captured’ and how instruments were powered.

A fourth gallery is changed periodically and currently houses an exhibition called 45 Years of Change, The Musical Museum and High Street Brentford.

“As a Chiswick resident I believe strongly in the need to keep specialist local museums such as The Musical Museum not just surviving but thriving and going from strength to strength,” added Sir Christopher. “I would encourage people of all ages to come along on a musical voyage of discovery.”

The museum has been re-housed thanks to a £1.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards overall costs of nearly £2.65 million.

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