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On 28th March, our Music Instrument Making and Repair students had a talk from Ben Filmer–Sankey, Roll Library and Archive Manager of the prestigious Musical Museum in Brentford, London. The talk focused on the restoration of rare musical instruments, notably rare pianos. 

In his talk, he showed students pictures of the many mechanical musical instruments in the collection at the museum.

mae music museum talk

These include a fully functioning Wurlitzer organ (which is used for recitals), automated violins and several Steinway grand pianos operated from piano rolls recorded by such players as Rachmaninov.

Originally known as The British Piano Museum, the museum was founded over 50 years ago by the late Frank Holland MBE, who exhibited his own private collection of some half-dozen reproducing pianos at St George’s Church, Brentford. The lease for 2 years, but due to the popularity of his collection of pianos, Frank managed to stay at the church for 40 years.

In the early years of the museum, a number of famous pianists had recorded rolls earlier in the century and attracted their fan base to come along to the museum to hear them play.

A team of volunteers helps maintain the collection of rare working specimens of orchestrations, reed organs, and violin players, in addition to player pianos.

Following the talk by Ben, several of our learners expressed an interest in the opportunity in volunteering with the museum and will be going along to the museum to see the workshops and meet other volunteers.

For more information about our Music Instrument Making and Repair course visit: https://www.merton.ac.uk/musical-instrument-making-courses