Listen Up, London: Must-See Music Exhibitions

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains

V&A Museum, 13th May – 1st Oct 2017

This year sees the 50-year anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd’s debut single, ‘Arnold Layne’. To mark the occasion, the V&A Museum is unveiling the first major international retrospective of one of the most successful and influential bands of all time: ‘The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains’.

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Find out about the band’s artistic history (credit: Pink Floyd Exhibition)

The show promises an immersive and theatrical journey that will channel the band’s reputation for pioneering sonic and visual experimentation. Featuring 350 artefacts from handwritten lyrics to stage props, the exhibit will chart Pink Floyd’s inimitable music, staging and design from the 1960s to the present day in spectacular and multi-sensory style.

The Spencer Collection: A Musical Banquet, 3rd Jan 2017 – 31st Mar 2018

And Hands, 28th Feb 2017 – 31st May 2017

Royal Academy of Music

The eminent permanent collection of the Royal Academy of Music Museum is accompanied this year by two rather different temporary displays. The first, ‘A Musical Banquet’ showcases pieces from Robert Spencer’s collection of early music instruments, manuscripts, printed music and curiosities. With items spanning 500 years, the exhibition offers a rich and beautiful array of artefacts to intrigue and delight music enthusiasts, including guitar songs printed on playing cards and fine 16th century guitars and lutes.

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Top-notch exhibition space (credit: Royal Academy of Music)

The second, ‘Hands’, is a little less conventional for a music exhibition. It’s dedicated to musician’s hands, the most powerful tool in the arsenal of composers and performers alike. The exhibition seeks to question what hands might say about musicians by means of casts and photographs and includes specimens from such venerable composers as Chopin, Mendelssohn and Paganini.

The Vault

Hard Rock Café 

London’s only rock ‘n’ roll museum and part of the flagship Hard Rock Café, The Vault is quite literally what it says on the tin: a cosy basement room inside an old Coutts Bank, complete with hefty steel door. The small permanent exhibition of rock ‘n’ roll treasures includes clothing and personal items (Madonna’s Jean Paul Gauthier Bustier, John Lennon’s army shirt) but pride of place is the collection of guitars and other instruments (owned by the likes of Hendrix, Dylan, Bowie and Cobain).

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Head downstairs for more surprises (credit: Mail Experiences)

Entry is free and includes a guided tour from a member of staff. The Vault is accessed through the Hard Rock Café’s gift shop across the road from the café itself.

Handel & Hendrix in London

Beyond sharing a staggering musical talent, George Frideric Handel and Jimi Hendrix have at least one other thing in common: both called the same street in Mayfair home, separated by a wall and 200 years of history. Today, 25 and 23 Brook Street are home to Handel House and the Hendrix Flat respectively – both featuring historically restored rooms that invite the public to step back in time and view the spaces as they would have been.

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Music history, side by side (credit: Hendrix and Handel Museum)

Handel House features four restored rooms complemented by a roster of temporary exhibitions around Handel’s life and times and by live music performances. The Handel House series explores music of the Baroque period across multiple programmes between now and April.

Opened just last year, the Hendrix Flat has the distinction of being the only one of his homes open to the public. As the setting for many jam sessions and hours of song writing, the flat provides a unique insight into the creative space of the celebrated and mythologised musician.

Abbey Road Crossing

The most famous musical landmark in London and probably the world, the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road studios was immortalised on the cover of The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road. Today, it’s a pilgrimage site for fans of the Fab Four and anyone with an enthusiasm for pop culture. Check out the ‘crossing cam’ online for a glimpse of what to expect. Do remember that the nearby Abbey Road Studios are a working studio and unfortunately aren’t open to the general public.

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An Abbey Road outtake, Paul wears sandals (credit: Iain Macmillan)