St. Cecilia’s, or St. Cecilia’s Hall: Concert Room and Musical Museum, to give it its full name opened last week in Edinburgh. Rarely does a new museum open, north of the border so it was nice to go along and check out the newest kid in town. Edinburgh, like London is very fortunate to have many extremely high quality visitor attractions. In fact, I would say we are spoilt for choice!
The entrance to the museum is at the bottom of Niddry Street, just off the Royal Mile. A prime location for a museum if there ever was one. Upon entering you are greeted by front of house staff and directed to the upper level of the museum. from this point the journey begins.
The Binks Gallery is home to harpsichords, and is a perfect introduction to the music museum; it still has that new smell! The detail on the harpsichords is fantastic and I was particularly taken with the double keyboard harpsichord. This instrument was made in 1764, and altered by Pascal Taskin in 1780, the harpsichord maker to Louis XVI. It is visiually stunning and a great way to start the visit to the museum.
Believe it or not, I do actually have a Higher in Music, but it’s been years since I played anything and I don’t think anyone’s ears would benefit from it, if I was to pick up an instrument again…
At the end of the Binks Gallery, there is also a small recording studio, before the door leads into the 1812 Gallery. The harpsichords in this gallery are displayed with their lids open exposing the fantastic designs underneath. This part of the gallery was added in 1812, by the Freemasons of Edinburgh, who had taken over ownership of the building from the Baptist Church. The mirrored wall only enhances the space, and it is home of the museums first #museumselfie!
Adjacent to the 1812 Gallery is the Sypert Concert Room. This space was designed by Robert Mylne and is now home now, not only to concerts that are held in the museums but also events. The hall is the oldest purpose built concert in Scotland and the second oldest in the UK.
From the Concert Room I headed downstairs to the Wolfson Gallery and the Laigh Hall. The Wolfson Gallery has arranged the instruments on display into families and has displayed them in chronological order. From here you can see how different families of instruments have changed over time, developing their appearance. There is an abundance of instruments on display, and I’m sure like most museum collections, this has barely scratched the surface.
Opposite Wolfson Hall, is Laigh Hall. This space doubles as an education space, highlighting the universality of music and musical instruments, whilst showcasing collections and musical families from around the world.
As with all speciality museums, they are not for everyone. I work in an anatomy museum, so I fully understand that a particular museum focussing on one topic may not appeal to all audiences. Specialty museums focus on subject matter in greater detail than a national museum would, but I feel that this enhances the visitor experience. With St. Cecilia’s, great care that has gone into interpreting the collection, redeveloping the building and redisplaying the instruments. I would urge those in Edinburgh to check out the museum, as it is free to enter and located in fantastic location in the city centre, less than a minute from the Royal Mile. St. Cecilia’s is definitely one to watch and I’m keen to hear how the museum grows from strength to strength over the next year. An excellent addition to the Edinburgh museum scene.
Website – http://www.stcecilias.ed.ac.uk/
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