Musical Instrument Museum - Musée des Instruments de Musique, Brussels
As I walked up the Mont des Arts near the top on the left was an attractive building, adorned with music notes and a MIM. I wasn't too sure about wanting to spend a short time looking at musical instruments, but since I love music of all kinds I purchased a ticket and went in. Three floors and several hours later I left. It was awesome. Not only is there an incredible variety of musical instruments, from formal, classical orchestral instruments to African percussion pieces, as you walked from section to section you could listen to samples of the music being created by these instruments. There is the obligatory gift shop and also a cafe, but I did not check the cafe out.
This new museum opened in the year 2000 in the beautifully renovated "Old England" building. On your way in you get a set of infrared headphones, so you can hear the sound of the exhibited musical instruments all over the museum.
They have seven thousand musical instruments from all over the world, displayed on four floors:
• In the basement they have mechanical instruments, 20th century instruments, a group of bells and a "sound area"
• On the ground floor there are Belgian and European folk instruments as well as non-European instruments.
• On the first floor (= one flight up) the exhibits are arranged in the form of a historical tour from antiquity to the 20th century.
• On the second floor there is a systematic presentation showing the development of keyboard instruments and stringed instruments in Europe over several centuries.
On the upper floors there are concert halls and a library, and on the top (sixth) floor there is a restaurant with a view out over the city of Brussels. (They call it a "wonderful" view.)
Second and third photos: Some of the many historical keyboard instruments on display on the second floor of the museum.
Fourth photo: Drums.
Fifth photo: Some of the many non-European instruments exhibited on the ground floor.
Musical Instruments Museum was one of the things that were really high on my list before we visit Brussels. Although I enjoyed the collection we didn’t really get excited with it because there was a big difference with other music museums like the Stockholm for example where you can try and play with many instruments. Here in Brussels you just see old instruments behind glass, you read the info and just put the earphones on to hear how the instrument sounds (even this isn’t always available as the handheld device-headphones you connect doesn’t always operate properly) which is really interesting especially for some unusual non western instruments. There wasn’t much information in english though.
Apart from that the collection is very good with about 8000 (!) instruments covering many centuries and several different types of instruments, some typical ones but also weird ones from east or africa. There different levels, each one focus on different kinds, mechanical instruments, traditional ones, orchestral instruements, keyboards, strings etc By the way don’t forget that Antoine Joseph Sax was from Belgium, yes he was the one that invented saxophone in 19th century, actually he invented and designed many instruments, you can see some of them in the museum.
There’s also an interesting museum store and a café at the top floor with some nice view over the city(pic 5)
The entrance fee is 5euro
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday 9.30-17.00, weekends 10.00-17.00
This was a really nice surprise! I didn't expect this museum to be very fascinating at all and I only visited because I happened to be near by after visiting the Coudenberg Palace and I thought the building itself looked amazing from the outside.
Indeed the building is amazing and would make a visit worthwhile on it's own. It used to be the Old England department store which is an orgy of Art Nouveau elegance and a must see for all admirers of this style.
The museum contains an amazing number of musical instruments from across the world and the centuries. Many of these I had never even heard of. Just looking at these in cases would be very dull, so the museum hands you a set of headphones as you go in and you plug these in as you make you way around the exhibits to hear a short piece of music played on the instrument.
The museum is arranged over 4 floors each with a slightly different focus. My favourite in the whole museum was the display about ancient music which included an Egyptian shoulder harp from c500BC.
There is also a restaurant on the top floor (with excellent views) and a museum shop (which closes for lunch).
The museum is open Tues to Fri 9.30am to 5pm and on Sat & Sun from 10am to 5pm. Adult admission is €5 or free if you have a BrusselsCard.
“Regarding the saxophone, it has a voice rich and penetrating. The rather veiled quality of the tone partakes at once of the cello, the cor anglais, and the clarinet, but with more intense sonority.”
— Philip Hale (1854-1934), U.S. music critic
The saxophone was invented in 1846 by Belgian-born Adolphe Sax (1814-1894 ); he was a instrument maker, a flautist and a clarinetist living and working in Paris.
Founded in 1877, the Musical Instrument Museum has a collection that ranges from a gamelan (a traditional Indonesian musical ensemble) to a Tibetan temple bell. Originally housed in an annex to the Royal Conservatory of Music, the 1,500 instruments on display can be see in a fabulous Art Nouveau building that was once home to the Old England department store. MiM moved into the Old England building in 1992.
It is possible to listen to how the various instruments sound using infrared headphones; those musical examples, 200 of them, range from ancient Greek tunes to mid-20th-century pieces. There are also paintings and ancient vases that show various instruments being played. You will find within the four-story museum a complete 17th-century orchestra; a priceless 1619 spinet-harpsichord, one of only two such instruments known to exist; an armonica, a rare Chédeville bagpipe (named for Nicolas Chédeville, an 18 th century composer and minstral); and 100 Indian instruments, a gift to Leopold II, King of the Belgians, from Rajah Sourindro Mohun Tagore.
The rooftop café offers fantastic views of the city. Occasionally, free concerts are given at MiM; call for further information.
This museum was a recommendation from Adi, our B&B host, as a thing to do on our last hours in the city and it was spot on! Not only did I like the building it is at, but I liked the idea of showing musical instruments and providing you with free headphones so that you can listen to what they sound like.
The museum has a sound lab where you can experiment with a piano and a Wii orchestra conductor game (lower level) and 3 floors full of musical instruments from Africa and Europe, beginning from antique instruments from Egypt to the electronic instruments of today. My personal favorite was the drums from Cameroun.
The information panels are written only in French and Dutch, but we found free guides in English, that we could borrow to read and learn about the instruments. The entrance fee for an adult is 5 euros (as of March 2010) and before you can go in, you must leave your jacket and backpacks in the deposit next to the ticket booth.
They also have a restaurant at the top floor and a museum shop. More info about opening times and exhibitions on the link below.
Music Instrument Museum
Located in an old store Old England. Built in Art Nouveau, this beautiful building houses a rich collection of ancient instruments.
Entrance 5 euro (adults)
Closed every Monday. 1st January, 1st May, 1st and 11 November, 25 December.
Situé dans un ancien magasin "Old England. Construit en Art Nouveau, ce superbe bâtiment abrite une riche collection d'instruments anciens.
Entrée 5 euros (adultes)
Fermé tous les lundis. Les 1er janvier, 1er mai, 1er et 11 novembre, 25 décembre.
This museum is housed in a Art Nouveaux building designed in 1899. It has more than 1.500 intruments from all areas of the world and from all times. These are on display on four floors.
Once you bought your ticket you are given a set of infrared headphones. If you stand besides an instrument; on a spot marked with a headphone on the floor you will hear music played by the instrument on the headphones.
This palace has also a concert hall, a library, a shop and a restaurant on the top. This provides a view over some area of the city.
My partner is a musician and we both love music and history. What better museum than to see musical instruments from years past and many different cultures? We found this museum one of the best and most fun! There are three levels of exhibits, instruments of all kinds and you get a headset that kicks in and plays the music and sounds of many of the instruments on display as you near the cases. Probably works by infared signals.
The first level has folk type instruments from all over the world. Another level focuses on strings and there are also keyboards and brass/horn/reed instruments. Most are behind glass and some of the larger pieces are out on display. There are lovely painted pianos and a grand mirrored room reflecting the harps and grand pianos on the third level. It's all very interesting and the cost isn't very high, just 5 euro per adult. There's a lift for those with mobility problems, an interesting gift shop, an a cafe on the sixth floor with good views over Brussels. You can even see the shining globes of the Atomium in the distance. The building is really different, tall and thin with arched windows and decorations around it. It used to be a department store, Old England and is in the Art Nouveau style.
It's a good idea to check your coat because we found it a little warm going through the museum. You can take photos without a flash if you have a camera with a high ISO setting.
The museum is closed on Mondays, Open 9:30 to 5 weekdays and 10 to 5 weekends. Free admission every first Wednesday of the month from 1pm onwards. It's part of the larger Royal museum of Arts and History and you can purchase a pass to all of these.
The Museum of Musical Instruments has different sections for world music, pianos/harpsichords etc and European instruments. Headphones give an example of each instrument being played as you approach it which helps bring the exhibits to life. The cafe on the 6th floor has great views of the city though the service was very slow when I went there.
Fascinating displays; central location; good resto. Highly recommended.
The building is an amazing art nouveau structure - formerly a department store.
More than 6,000 items in the collection, including prototypes by Adolphe Sax - guess what he invented!
€5 entry in April 2006.
The MIM as its popularly called is a fantastic experience with about 7000 musical instruments on display! you can spend as little as 2hours upto a whole day enjoying this unique experience.The best part abt this museum is that you get to listen to the sounds of all the instruments on display....you are given a headphone at the entrace and all you have to do is just stand in front of the instrument and it starts playing into your ear! It would require a lot of self control to not break into a dance!
One might be mislead into thinking that this place is only for the music lovers but even my husband who is not that into music had a great time! he dint complain even once!also music speaks a universal language so theres no question of language issues!:)
Theres a restaurant at the topmost floor of the MIM which offers a fantastic view of the city but the day we went it was packed and we had to wait a long time for a table.
Aside from having numerous historical examples of harpsichords and other older keyboard instruments, the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels also includes a workshop to show how harpsichords are made today.
This museum in Brussels is the newest and largest Musical Instrument Museum that I know of, but there are also some very interesting ones in other European cities such as Paris, Berlin, Stuttgart and Nürnberg.
Second and third photos: In the basement a number of ingenious mechanical instruments are on display, mainly from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These have now been largely supplanted by digital synthesizers, but at the time they were amazingly popular.
Fourth photo: A wire recorder (precursor of the tape recorder) and an old wind-up phonograph.
Fifth photo: Some of the many accordions on display.
This Art nouveau building from the year 1899 was originally built for the "Old England" department store.
After the store moved out some seventy years later, the building stood empty for a long time and must have been quite an eyesore in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
In recent years the building has been carefully restored, and now houses the "mim" Musical Instrument Museum.
Second photo: Old England from across the street.
Third, fourth and fifth photos: Instruments on the second floor of the Musical Instrument Museum.
The Musical Instrument Museum used to be a department store hence the name Old England. The facade of the building is one of the finest examples of Art Nouveau in the city of Brussels. We passed by on several occassions, stopping to take more pictures in the changng light conditions. The first sight of this wonderous arty building is an amazing with its intricate detailed ironwork spiraling towards the sky. For admission times and ticket prices see the web site below. I was more than happy to view the exterior but if the sun hadn't shone I would have liked to see the musical exhibits here.