The best museums and galleries for music-lovers in London

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Discover the treasures of London's cultural landscape as we guide you through the city's top museums and galleries that will sing to music lovers everywhere...

As Lily Allen once sang in 'LDN,' why, oh why, would you want to be anywhere else? London is a dream for every music enthusiast, and this article is your backstage pass to explore the city that gave the world Abbey Road, Amy Winehouse, and Aladdin Sane. Join us as we take you on a harmonious journey through London's top musical museums and galleries, where history, creativity, and craftsmanship harmonize in perfect symphony...

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall via Facebook

Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP

Step into the heart of London's musical legacy at the Royal Albert Hall, where history echoes through every note and every corridor. Since flinging open its grand doors to the public in 1871, this iconic venue has become the unrivaled superstar of UK musical stages, hosting over 360 events annually that span the entire musical spectrum. From the soulful strains of Ed Sheeran and Adele to the more niche melodies of classical orchestras and beyond, this hall has seen it all. But that's not all that makes the Royal Albert Hall a legendary stop on your musical museum tour. Did you know it once played host to a séance, flooded its auditorium for an opera concert, and welcomed both criminals and luminaries to its stage? On a tour guided by a friendly expert, you'll explore the regal corners of this venue, gaze upon the awe-inspiring auditorium, and stand on the same stage graced by history-shapers, world-changers, and dazzling stars from Arctic Monkeys to Muhammad Ali. 

The Vault At The Hardrock Cafe

 150 Old Park Ln, London W1K 1QZ

Welcome to the Hard Rock Cafe London, where music, food, and culture unite- and don't miss the crown jewel of this rock 'n' roll haven, The Vault. Nestled within the confines of a former Coutts Bank, this hidden treasure trove once safeguarded the Queen's riches. Now, it guards the world's most cherished music memorabilia. Sign up for a guided tour, and the best part? It's free entry! Here, you'll encounter artifacts from legends like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and John Lennon, all while sipping on drinks and savoring delectable cakes. Morning tours kick off at 9 am from the Hard Rock Hotel London, while afternoon tours begin at 1:30 pm from Hard Rock Cafe Old Park Lane.

Royal College of Music Museum

Prince Consort Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2BS

With its origins dating back to 1894, The Royal College of Music has harmoniously grown its collection to an impressive 15,000 instruments. As you explore, perfectly illuminated display cases reveal a mesmerizing array of stringed and woodwind instruments, from the earliest surviving guitar to elegant recorders. But the real showstopper? The keyboard instruments that dominate the space, including a clavicytherium from 1480 and a beautifully adorned 16th-century harpsichord crafted by Alessandro Trasuntino.  The museum's interactive spaces host performances by RCM musicians and offer you a chance to create your melodies in the Weston Discovery Centre. Beyond instruments, the museum weaves its story through art, with portraits of music legends like Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams adorning the Lavery Gallery. 

The Royal Academy of Music Museum

Museum, 1–5 York Gate, Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5HT

Open on Fridays from 11 am to 6 pm, the Royal Academy of Music orchestrates a symphony of creativity. Delve into a treasure trove that includes Stradivari and Amati stringed wonders, historic keyboards by Broadwood, Pleyel, and Erard, as well as scores and memorabilia from music's luminaries. With lecture-recitals, seminars, workshops, special events, and family activities, it's a free-flowing symphony open to all. Accredited and designated by Arts Council England, this museum offers a backstage pass to musical history and a chance to meet Academy students and volunteers who are always ready to answer your questions. 

Handel & Hendrix House

Handel Hendrix via Facebook

25 Brook St, London W1K 4HB

Prepare to be rocked by the Handel and Hendrix House, where musical history echoes through the ages. This unique space celebrates two of London's greatest musicians who once shared neighboring flats at 25 and 23 Brook Street. George Frideric Handel, who resided at 25 Brook Street from 1723 to 1759, composed some of his most iconic works here, including the legendary 'Messiah.' Meanwhile, the flat next door, once occupied by rock legend Jimi Hendrix in 1968-1969, adds a contemporary twist to this musical haven. You can explore Handel's creatively charged rooms and witness live performances of his timeless compositions. Step into Hendrix's world, where an extensive collection of memorabilia traces his extraordinary career. The house also hosts concerts, workshops, and guided tours, offering a harmonious blend of past and present.

Horniman Museum

100 London Rd, London SE23 3PQ

The Horniman Museum, home to one of the UK's largest and most diverse collections of musical instruments. With over 1,300 instruments from around the world on display, this gallery offers a mesmerizing journey through the heartbeats of countless cultures. Watch captivating short films that connect instruments to their global contexts. Interactive sound tables let you explore the sounds of your favorite instruments and unearth new auditory gems. From the intimate stories of keyboard instruments that have graced our homes to the rhythms of life marking milestones worldwide, this museum is a treasure trove of musical wonders. Dive into the art and science of instrument-making, from the creation of the English concertina to the rich history of Boosey & Hawkes. With hands-on experiences, sound stations, and live performances, the Horniman Museum is not just a musical museum; it's anexploration for art, science, and music enthusiasts alike. Best of all, admission is free!

The Musical Museum

The Musical Museum via Facebook

399 High St, Brentford TW8 0DU

A little adventure out of the city will lead you to Brentford's Musical Museum, that boasts everything from the tiniest music boxes to the grandeur of the Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ, this museum orchestrates a symphony of invention and innovation spanning four centuries. Marvel at mechanical wonders like reproducing pianos, orchestrions, self-playing violins, and gramophones, all brought to life through guided tours and instrument demonstrations. It's not just a place to see; it's a place to hear and experience music's evolution. And when you need a break from the auditory delights, the museum's lovely café offers river views, making it a harmonious destination for music lovers and families alike."

Eel Pie Island Museum

Eel Pie Island via Facebook

1-3 Richmond Rd, Twickenham TW1 3AB

Discover a groovy time capsule at the Eel Pie Island Museum, where the vibrant history of this riverside haven unfolds. From its role in the swinging 60s RnB boom to its legendary boatyards and eccentric island inhabitants, this museum is a treasure trove of stories, both on its walls and shared by passionate volunteers. Picture this: a rundown ballroom at the Eel Pie Hotel transformed into a sonic playground where household-name bands like the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Rod Stewart belted out blues, jazz, and psychedelic rock. It was the place to be, and thousands discovered themselves on the dance floor. And speaking of discoveries, Eel Pie Island attracted creative souls like inventor Trevor Baylis, whose riverside abode was not only a hub of innovation but also legendary for wild parties. Opened by Don Craine and Trevor Baylis, this museum is a vibrant celebration of all things 'Eel Pie,' a trip down memory lane for some and a new adventure for others.

Fenton House and Garden

Fenton House, Hampstead Grove, London NW3 6RT

Prepare to be charmed at Fenton House and Garden, where music echoes through the centuries. The National Trust has been the keeper of the Benton Fletcher collection of early keyboard instruments since 1938, and these historic treasures are more than just museum pieces; they're music-makers. With instruments dating from a 1540 virginal to a 1925 clavichord, the collection spans centuries of craftsmanship and creativity. Delve into the world of these finely worked and painted instruments, and if you're lucky, catch a live demonstration by volunteer musicians. At Fenton House, the past harmonizes with the present, making it a must-visit for music enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

V & A Museum

Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL

While the V&A's Gallery of Musical Instruments may have closed its doors in 2010, music still resonates throughout this iconic museum. The V&A keeps the rhythm alive by showcasing numerous musical instruments in its British Galleries and the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, complete with period music recordings to transport you through time. And the music doesn't stop there; the museum has exciting plans with two new galleries in development – the Furniture Gallery and the Europe 1600 to 1800 Galleries – where even more musical treasures will make their debut. So, while you won't find a dedicated musical instrument gallery, the V&A continues to strike a chord with music enthusiasts in its own unique way.

The Power Of Music at The Science Museum

Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD

'Turn It Up: The Power of Music,' -an electrifying exhibition that's moved from the Science + Industry Museum in Manchester to the Science Museum in London. This sonic journey explores the grip of music on our lives and invites you to dive deep into its mysterious and transformative powers. With interactive exhibits that let you hear, interact with, and even create your own music, you'll discover the science behind music's emotional impact. From a musical playground to a Turing test that pits humans against machines, and even a meet-and-jam session with Haile, the musical robot. Don't miss seeing groundbreaking tech like the MiMU Gloves, created by Imogen Heap and used by stars like Ariana Grande. Plus, witness the Pyrophone, an organ powered by flames – talk about hot music!