Enjoy seeing and hearing unique and historic musical instruments from all over the world in the Muziekinstrumentenmuseum / Musée des instruments de musique.
The Musical Instruments Museum (Muziekinstrumentenmuseum / Musée des instruments de musique) in Brussels has one of the largest collections of musical instruments in the world. Well over a thousand instruments from all parts of the world are on display from the collection of over 9,000 items. Visitors can listen to many short recordings on automatic headsets. Admission is very cheap for under 26-year olds but a lack of English is unfortunate, especially as 70% of visitors come from abroad.
The Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels
The Musical Instruments Museum (Muziekinstrumentenmuseum in Dutch / Musée des instruments de musique in French / MIM for short and mim for short and pretend modern) is one of the great and spectacular museums at the Mont des Arts (Kunstberg) in central Brussels. The museum’s inventory exceeds 9,000 instruments of which well over thousand are on display at any given time. Many can be seen and listened toonline.
The musical instruments on permanent display are spread over three flours while a fourth floor is used for temporary exhibitions. On the ground floor, the main displays are instruments from Belgium, early instruments, and instruments from various parts of the world. Currently, a large collection of percussion and wind instruments from Africa and Asia can be enjoyed.
On the first floor, the emphasis is on string and keyboard instruments. On show is a large range of pianos and violins as well as the huge number of similar string instruments.
The upper floor of the museum is used for temporary exhibitions. Up to mid-January 2015, the special exhibition is on the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax. He created much more than just the saxophone.
Visiting the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels
Visitors to the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels receive an audio player that automatically starts to play short recordings of many instruments on display. These players work with a small speaker, or visitors can plug in their own headphones, which is a good idea, as it can get noisy when busy.
These players only play music – it is not a traditional audio-guide with more information, except sometimes for the temporary exhibitions. This is one of the main criticisms of the museum as there is virtually no information in English in the display rooms. This is an odd policy for a museum seeing 72% from its visitors arriving from abroad. (Even in Dutch and French, the information and text panels are surprisingly limited.)
The museum is also surprisingly non-interactive. Apart from the automatic music players, there is nothing else to push or pull or swipe. Visitors can hardly expect to be let loose on the historic and unique musical instruments but many other museums manage to provide at least some interactive displays and activities for children.
The Musical Instruments Museum in “Old England”
The Musical Instruments Museum just off Place Royal on the Mont des Arts (Kunstberg). Since 2000, the museum has been located here in two buildings: a neo-Classical edifice (1774) by Barnabé Guimard that forms part of the Place Royal and more spectacularly the Art Nouveau “Old England building” (1899) by Paul Saintenoy.
This former Old England department store is one of the earliest examples using iron and steel with a lot of glass for a commercial building rather than a train station or similar infrastructure project. The building was restored to its former beauty during the 1990s – note the many English symbols on the exterior, especially the faience reliefs that drew shoppers to this once classy Brussels establishment.
Some of the Art Nouveau architectural details of the former department store can still be seen inside the exhibition halls, as well as from the restaurant on the 10th floor. Access to restaurant is free to all – pass through the museum entrance to the direct elevator. The views from here over Brussels are generally rated better than the food but it is a pleasant venue for a drink. (Main courses are around €15.)
MIM Opening Hours and Tickets
The Musical Instruments Museum at Hofberg / Montagne de la Cour 2 in Brussels is open Tuesday to Friday from 9:30 am to 5 pm and on weekends from 10 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays and on some public holidays.
Admission tickets for the museum is €12 for adults 26 to 64 years and €9 for visitors older than 65. Children and young adults (4 to 25) pay only €2.
Admission is free each first Wednesday of the month from 1 pm.
Tickets may be bought online, which is a good idea as lines move very slowly at the cashier (and again at the separate issuing of the audio player). Coats and even fairly small bags need to be checked in at the free cloakroom.