RNCM Collection of Historic Musical Instruments - Atlas Obscura

RNCM Collection of Historic Musical Instruments

Over 300 historical instruments from around the world can be found in the Royal Northern College of Music's basement. 


Located in the Royal Northern College of Music’s basement in Manchester, England, is a collection of over 300 musical instruments, curiosities, and memorabilia. It was created thanks to three bequests to the college—two made by Henry Watson (donated in 1900 and 1910) and another by Josiah Chapman in 1942.

The collection includes hundreds of instruments from around the world, with related items stored together in cabinets. These range from a 15th-century Virginal, a great-grandfather to the modern-day piano, to Japanese drums and a Tibetan human bone trumpet.

Exploring the collection, you’ll also find curiosities, such as a cast of Frédéric Chopin’s left hand. Other items include a miniature violin made to perfect scale, dragon-headed bass trombones, and a Swiss music box decorated with hummingbird and butterfly hammers.

Due to their age and condition, it isn’t possible to play any of the instruments, but the £1 million Stradivarius violin is sometimes lent out for performances.

Know Before You Go

The collection is normally open before the college's lunchtime concerts. Access is restricted outside of these times, so please check the website before visiting.

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