The Art of Harmony: The V&A and Horniman Music Collections



2-1867 Positive organ, German, c. 1627 (without bellows)

At the end of this month, the Horniman will be launching The Art of Harmony. This new exhibition brings together musical instruments and archival material from the V&A and the Horniman to explore the musical, visual and intellectual harmony that resonates in these important collections.

The exhibition will focus on particular instrument traditions of Western classical music and feature some of the finest, rarest and most ornate examples of their types. They will be divided into six groups: according to function under the titles Consort, Continuo and Salon, and according to constructional or acoustical features under the titles Resonances, Virtuoso and Encore.

37-1870 Guitar. English, Frederick Hintz, London, 1755-60

The showcases will offer a visual feast. The oldest instrument on display, the Jerome of Bologna harpsichord from 1521, will be seen together with its red and gold tooled leather outer case. Many of the stringed instruments, including lutes and viols, have intricate inlay work in ivory, ebony and mother of pearl. Others, like the exquisitely carved octagonal recorder by Anciuti, are made entirely of ivory.

The instruments will be set into context with photographs and facsimiles of rarely seen archival materials from both collections. These will explore the social milieu in which these great collections were begun, the personalities behind them and the way musical collections are cared for and used today.

A dedicated display of two contextually rich horns by Raoux which were owned by the renowned performer, Giovanni Puzzi (1792-1876), will also be mounted. This continues the theme of collaboration and cooperation between the two institutions as one instrument comes from the Horniman collection and the other from the V&A.

A Thursday Late event for adults, Exploring the Art of Harmony at 7pm on Thursday 31 March will offer insight into these rare and exquisite musical instruments and show how they complement the Horniman’s own renowned collections. Places are free but should be booked in advance via or 020 8291 8721.

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