The good news (if it’s a rainy day) or bad news (if you were hoping to hang out in chocolate heaven) is that you and your children could very well happily spend an entire day at this museum.
Although the Musical Instruments Museum owns approximately 9,000 musical instruments, only 1,121 are displayed. ONLY 1,121!! That means that if you spend 30 seconds in front of each instrument, you’ll need 9 hours and 20 minutes to get around the museum, and as the museum is only open for 7 and a half hours, you simply can’t cover the whole museum even in a whole day! Of course, you think, I (and certainly my child!!) would not want to spend a whole day here, but think again!
The curators have made this a brilliantly enjoyable journey with musical encounters from across the globe and fascinating stories about the instruments that have an unexpectedly historic resonance
For example, there is the story of the glass harmonica, engineered by the Benjamin Franklin, and whose sound is based upon the principle of that age-old trick of running your finger around the rim of a crystal glass. This instrument went on to become all the rage throughout Europe in the nineteenth century. With an ethereal sound (which you can listen to here) the instrument was used for all manner of seemingly unrelated purposes, including hypnotizing psychiatric patients (by Dr Franz Mesmer – the man whose techniques have meant we have the word ‘mesmerize’ today!).
So if you thought this place was merely about music… think again! It’s a science, history and anthropology lesson all rolled into one gloriously interactive experience. Many instruments can be played, but almost all of those that are locked behind glass can still be heard by simply lifting the headphones – or perhaps even just walking past that instrument – to hear it being played.
This remarkable museum ranks as one of the best museums in the world as far as MLSF is concerned. Not only is it a remarkable and unique collection of many of the world’s musical instruments, but it is all housed in one of Brussel’s Art Nouveau gems. Built in 1899 by architect Paul Saintenoy, the property had fallen into some disrepair when it was purchased in 1978 to house the collection. And of course there is the stunning restaurant with views out over Brussels and a variety of options on the menu.
Why go? Food, art, history and entertainment all in one of Brussel’s architectural gems. Need I say any more?
Who is it best for? The whole family – from toddlers through to grandparents
Top tip… The first Wednesday of each month, the museum does not charge for entry after 1pm! You can also access the restaurant directly without paying entrance to the museum – but you really would be missing an astonishing experience if you don’t take a tour of the instruments inside. To reserve a table, call +32 2502 95 08 or book via the website.
2022 UPDATE FOR VIRTUAL TRAVELLING
Unable to make it to Brussels in person? The museum has created another remarkable initiative with the interactive museum site website . Take a look around and let us know which exhibits were your favourites!