Piano Gallery

Museum Second Floor

This gallery follows the keyboard instrument’s lively evolution from the early 17th to the early 20th centuries. Our oldest instrument is an Italian virginal from c.1600-1650 and the collection culminates with a 1920s Steinway grand piano. All the instruments are kept in playing condition for demonstrations, classes and events.

The displays explore the keyboard across four different locations – the home, the stage, the workshop and the Academy itself – to see how domestic music-making, grand concerts, craftsmanship and virtuoso performers have all influenced the development of the instrument.

A group of Broadwood square and grand pianos from 1801 to 1844 show how shape, materials and techniques changed across the period to give the piano more power, projection and glamour. These English pianos can also be contrasted to the daintier Viennese style of instrument as exemplified by our Heichele piano – a real favourite in the gallery with its six pedals and surprising effects.

As well as the Academy’s own instruments, the exhibition features pianos generously placed on loan by Kenneth and Mary Mobbs, Oswald de Sybel, Andrew Hunter-Johnston, the Beare family, and the Stodart grand piano bequeathed to us by Frank Brown. The Academy also has a collection of keyboard instruments which are on long-term loan to the Cobbe Collection, Hatchlands (National Trust).