The Royal Academy of Music was founded by Lord Burghersh in 1822 with the help and ideas of the French harpist and composer Nicolas Bochsa. The Academy was granted a Royal Charter by King George IV in 1830. The building which house the museum was designed in 1822 as part of the main entrance to Regent’s Park, and was an important feature in John Nash’s architectural designs for Regency London. The interior of York Gate was largely destroyed by bomb damage in the 1940s, but the Nash exterior has Grade 1 listed building status. The Royal Academy of Music moved to Marylebone Road in 1911, and held a lease on part of York Gate during the 1920s and 1930s. A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund enabled the Academy to acquire and refurbish the building to house studios and practice rooms and a museum. The Museum has three permanent galleries, alongside regularly changing displays and exhibitions. Together they cover an array of eras, instruments and subjects, including stringed instruments from the 16th century by Antonia Stradivari. The galleries act as a showcase for the work of performers, composers, instrument makers and scholars from a wide range of musical and other relevant disciplines. The Museum has recently undergone refurbishment and now contains a 'History of the Academy' display that includes items from notable musicians associated with the Academy: one of Sir Henry Wood's conducting batons, letters by Felix Mendelssohn and the restored Alexander horn which was played by Dennis Brain, damaged in the crash which killed him, and subsequently restored by Paxman of London. The Ground floor gallery also houses regularly changing temporary exhibitions.
A selection of Cremonese instruments is on display in the Strings gallery. The exhibition features examples of instruments by makers Stradivari and Amati, as well as historical information, prints and engravings. The exhibition includes the ‘Viotti ex-Bruce’ violin by Stradivari which was saved for the nation in 2005. The instruments on display form part of the Royal Academy of Music’s fine collection of over 250 stringed instruments from the violin family. The collection includes examples of the work of the finest and most influential makers. These instruments are frequently played in concerts and recordings but are normally kept in the Academy. The present form of the collection can be said to date from 1890 when John Rutson (1829–1906) gave an important group of instruments to the Academy. The Rutson Collection includes the Archinto viola (1696), the Rutson violin (1694) and the Maurin violin all by Stradivari, as well as instruments by members of the Amati family, Pressenda and other influential makers. In the Piano Gallery the exhibition features pianos placed on loan by Kenneth and Mary Mobbs, Oswald de Sybel, Andrew Hunter-Johnston, the Beare family, and the Stodart grand piano bequeathed by Frank Brown. Other collections include the Foyle Menuhin archive (letters, music, photographs, artworks and more collected by Yehudi Menuhin over his lifetime), Jenny Lind (1820–1887) Collection, David Munrow (1942–1976) Collection, the Priaulx Rainier (1903–1986) Collection and The McCann Collection. York Gate is wheelchair accessible to all floors. The front entrance to the Museum and the Academy Chimes shop has steps. The museum’s three floors are all accessible via the lift. Step-free access to both buildings is signposted from the York Gate building front entrance and is to the right (Eastern) side of this building. Guide and Assistance Dogs are welcome.
Location : Marylebone Road, London NW1 5HT
Opening Times: Monday to Friday 11:30 to 17:30.
Saturday 12:00 to 16:00.
Tickets : Free.
Tel: 020 7873 7443