“Music is a piece of art that goes in the ears and straight to the heart.”
“You can’t touch music, but music can touch you.”
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Music has always had the ability to move me to tears, to touch me at the very core where even the most emotional movies and books have failed to reach. I remember watching Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (dare I say, the best movie I watched in 2018), feeling goosebumps dance across my skin as their voices melded together in perfect harmony.
Which got me thinking: what would be the most meaningful pilgrimage for us music lovers? A music museum world tour, that’s what. Let’s see the world through the eyes of music – these 8 destinations will take you around the globe to discover the beauty of sound.
1. Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica (Bologna, Italy)
Despite the seemingly-complicated mouthful, the name simply means: “The International Museum and Library of Music”. Bologna is home to contemporary music events, live jazz bars, upcoming young artists and bands, and so much more. The music scene is rich and dynamic, befitting its nickname, “City of Music”, a prestigious title given by UNESCO in 2006.
The Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica is located within Palazzo Sanguinetti, in the historical centre of Bologna. Expect to see over one hundred portraits of renowned musical personalities, more than eighty antique musical instruments, extensive selections of valuable historical documents and 10,000 posters on exhibit.
Website | Related information
2. The Museum of Musical Instruments (Berlin, Germany)
Beethoven, Bach, Schumann, Brahms, Pachelbel… these iconic composers called Germany home (as does the Hans Zimmer who has scored multiple award-winning films). It comes as no surprise that Berlin has one of the greatest music museums in the world, located at Kulturforum behind the gleaming Philharmonic building.
At the museum, feast your eyes on more than 800 instruments from the 16th century to present day which includes items owned by ‘celebrities’ back in the day (like Prussia’s Queen Sophie Charlotte, Frederick the Great and Ben Franklin). Not to be missed is the impressive Mighty Wurlitzer Organ performance – a circa-1929 monstrosity with 1228 pipes, 175 stops and 43 pistons – the largest of its kind in Europe.
Website | Related information
3. Haus der Musik (Vienna, Austria)
While Germany has Beethoven (though he died in Vienna), Austria has Mozart, and was instrumental in the development of classical music. Even to this day, it’s heralded as “the capital of classical music”. If you’re a fan of opera, you won’t want to miss a trip to Vienna. Here’s a head’s up: the Vienna State Opera is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, so you might want to check it out in May.
Haus der Musik spans an impressive four floors, with a unique mix of classical and technological exhibits that will leave you reeling with excitement. Be amazed by the homage to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the great Austrian composers, enjoy a smorgasbord of innovation and interactivity (relive your first musical experience in the womb, try your hand at the Virtual Conductor, or even direct your own opera)… your inner child will be mindblown.
Website | Related Information
4. Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum (Nashville, USA)
A music museum world tour ain’t complete if you don’t make your way to Nashville, the place to be for country music fans. Love her or hate her, even Taylor Swift moved 1,297 kilometres from Pennsylvania to Nashville to chase her country music dream before making the transition to pop.
It’s basically a win-win for visitors to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum: visit the exhibits (some permanent, some ever-changing to pay tribute to different country musicians) and join a tour to visit the historical RCA Studio-B, which was once the recording home of country giants Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, Dolly Parton and more.
5. Mechanical Music Museum (Les Gets, France)
In the commune of Les Gets in southeastern France, a snow-covered ski village awaits. Apart from its powder-white slopes and idyllic resorts, it also proudly hosts a bi-annual International Mechanical Music Festival, where the streets are closed and orgues (barrel organs) take to the streets, filling the village with music. But for the music lover, the piece de resistance of Les Gets is undeniably the Mechanical Music Museum.
More eccentric than the rest of the museums in this list, the Les Gets Mechanical Music Museum brings together a mismatched but wonderfully intriguing collection of chimes, clocks, musical boxes, organs, pneumatic pianos, phonographs, gramophones and more. There’s even a working carousel from 1871, said to be one of the oldest-existing in France, which has since been moved to the town centre.
Website | Related information
Bonus detour: museums dedicated to specific musicians
6. The Beatles Story, Liverpool
Long before the existence of Beliebers and One Directioners, there was Beatlemania. Four young lads from Liverpool with humble beginnings shot to worldwide fame, and this is their story. Take a look into the story of the Fab 4 in the 1960s, brought to life with replicas of The Casbah Coffee Club, Mathew Street and The Cavern Club.
7. Bob Marley Museum, Jamaica
Purely self-explanatory; no surprises who the museum is dedicated to. This large colonial-era wooden house on Hope Road, Kingston, was where the reggae legend lived and recorded his music, making it all the more special to visit. Visitors rave about the knowledgeable tour guides – if you’re lucky, you might even meet one who knew Bob Marley personally!
8. ABBA: The Museum, Stockholm
Many of us might not want to admit it, but deep down inside, we know the lyrics to at least one ABBA song. Filled with memorabilia, actual costumes worn by the band, a gallery of record certifications and more, the interactive exhibition lets you go back in time and try on their iconic costumes (virtually, of course), and then “perform” with ABBA through a hologram.
Image: Viktoria Niezhentseva / Unsplash
Writer | Michelle Tan
Underneath her RBF, Michelle is actually a friendly raccoon. Loves collecting ugly things, changing her hair colour, and dinosaurs (not necessarily in that order).