St Cecilias Hall Music Museum keyboard instruments

{Edinburgh} St Cecilia’s Hall & Musical Instrument Museum

I’ve got another Edinburgh ‘hidden gem’ to share with you today. Earlier this week I shared our visit to the Trinity House Maritime Museum, but that wasn’t the only new museum we discovered in Edinburgh over the Easter holidays. We also took a trip to St Cecilia’s Hall, which is not only home to Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall, but also houses the University of Edinburgh’s musical instrument collection.

When I say ‘new’ museum, I have actually visited St Cecilia’s Hall myself before, just never before with my kids. But much like Trinity House, St Cecilia’s Hall is trying to widen its audience and has been adding more family friendly activities to its offering.

St Cecilias Hall Music Museum keyboard instruments
St Cecilias Hall Music Museum keyboard instruments

Children can explore the museum with the Discovery Trail – just ask for it at the front desk when you arrive! There are 10 questions in total to answer, which lead you around the four galleries of the museum, including facts to find, things to spot and some answers where you are asked to draw. The two upstairs galleries (Binks Gallery & 1812 Gallery) house the museum’s keyboard instrument collection, with a variety of different instruments to discover. Some of them are beautifully painted and decorated, and one of the questions in the trail includes trying to spot various items, such as a lion, a shrimp, a poodle, a monkey and a watermelon, among the painted decorations – such a fun way to get children looking at the instruments in more detail (we didn’t find the watermelon, so we’ll have to come back again!) Of course, you can also see what else you can spot in the paintings.

St Cecilias Hall Music Museum Wolfson Gallery

In the downstairs galleries, Laigh Hall explores music as a form of communication and looks at how music and musical instruments are used in similar ways in different cultures around the world. But it was the Wolfson Gallery we spent the most time in, which has string, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments on display. The focus of this gallery is the creation and development of musical instruments, and there are over a dozen hands-on interactive ‘discovery drawers’ in the gallery which allow visitors both young and old the opportunity to uncover how instruments work.

Some drawers had things to touch, some had ‘lift-the-flap’ questions and answers, some had instruments you could play, some had videos to watch e.g. how a trumpet is made or how string instruments are carved. There were also some interesting instruments to spot in the gallery, such as the string instruments that had heads carved in to them, and the mahoosive ‘Serpent’ wind instrument. If your child is learning a musical instrument, they’ll also have fun trying to spot it in the museum. My 9 yr old is learning the violin at school, so he was particularly interested in all violin related displays.

If you take your completed trail to the information desk, you can collect a sticker as a reward. As well as the Discovery Trail, there are also children’s tours, family friendly concerts, and hands-on workshops offered at various points throughout the year. Just keep an eye on the “Whats’ On” section of the St Cecilia’s Hall website to see what’s coming up. It’s definitely a wee hidden gem and worth a visit!

Visitor Information

Opening Hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am – 4:30pm; closed Sundays & Mondays

Admission is free.

`>> St Cecilia’s Hall Website

How to get there

Address: 50 Niddry Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LG

By Bus: St Cecilia’s Hall is located just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and is a short walk from a number of bus stops. 

By Train: Edinburgh Waverley Train Station is less than a 10 minute walk away, e.g. bus 35 (on the Royal Mile), buses 3, 29, 30, 31, 33, 37 (from South Bridge), and buses 35 & 45 (from Chambers Street).

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