Skip to main content

About The Museum of Music History (MOMH)

Our inspiration

The inauguration of the Museum of Music History, and the rapid growth of its collections, was inspired by the vision and passionate commitment of its founder, Oliver Davies FRCM (1938-2020), distinguished pianist, musicologist, and collector.

An appreciation of his exceptional contribution to the study of music history can be found here.

Our History

We Have a Long and Successful History

The Museum was founded by Oliver Davies in 2003, under the patronage of Sir Charles Mackerras (1925 -2010), after the late John Cruft, a former Music Director of the Arts Council of Great Britain, chaired a discussion on Britain’s need for a comprehensive and fully accessible music and dance museum. Other major cities in Europe were seen to have flourishing museums of music, but London, despite its significant role in music history, lacked a similar national institution outside of its conservatoire collections. Dr Stanley Sadie (1930 – 2005) was appointed as the first Chairman. An Advisory Committee of friends and experts in different fields is central to the Museum’s operation today, together with our wonderful team of dedicated volunteers.


Our Collection

Our substantial collection is at present held in four locations across London and the South East.

In addition to bequeathing the substantial personal collection he developed over many years, Oliver Davies received numerous important bequests to the Museum. These often came from the estates of distinguished musicians, scholars and collectors such as Thomas Beecham, Yehudi Menuhin, Beatrice Harrison, Marie Hall, Lawrance Collingwood, Philip Jones, Carl Dolmetsch, Margaret Campbell, John Watt and Emmie Tillett. Significant acquisitions include an Erard square piano (1808) owned by Napoleon, a Broadwood grand piano (1850) owned by William Sterndale Bennett, a portrait of Sir George Grove (1861) by Sir Henry Phillips and reconstructions of medieval instruments given by Mary Remnant.

We have presented monthly Exhibitions on our website since 2010, many of them inspired by items in our collections or important anniversaries. Authored by Oliver Davies and other specialists in musicology, ballet and iconography, nearly 200 Exhibitions are now available to be viewed in our online gallery.

Our Future

We have opened a temporary facility for archival research at our largest storage area in Surrey, and are working hard to open our doors to the public by securing long-term exhibition space in addition to our archive premises. We will continue to promote exhibitions, events and educational initiatives, and to share items from our collection in association with other institutions and archives. We have now joined the National Conservation Service and are in the process of transferring our more valuable artefacts to the NCS/Restore Group facilities at Upper Heyford.

Enquiries regarding our collections are always welcomed and a general overview will be made available at the earliest opportunity. The enormous task of item-level cataloguing has already begun, and a fully searchable online catalogue is currently being developed.