Located in central Brussels, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is part of the Royal Museum for Art and History. Renowned for its collection of over 1,500 instruments, the museum showcases the instruments and provides visitors with free headphones to experience their “vibes” (visitors are given infrared headphones in order to listen to almost 200 musical extracts of the instruments on display).
The museum’s collection represents Belgian musical history (including Brussels’ importance in the making of recorders in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and as the home of instrument inventor Adolphe Sax in the nineteenth century), European musical traditions, and non-European instruments. Mechanical instruments are shown in the basement, traditional instruments on the ground floor, the development of the modern orchestral instruments on the first floor, and keyboard and stringed instruments on the second floor.
The museum also has a sound lab where visitors can experiment with various instruments.
Among the notable pieces of the collection are the famous Rottenburgh Alto recorder, instruments invented by Adolphe Sax, a unique set of giant Chinese stone chimes, and the only existing copy of the luthéal, an instrument used by Ravel.
Information is provided in French and Dutch, though not in English.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. The Brussels Card is valid in the museum so holders can enter at no extra cost. The MiM is easy to find on the Mont des Arts. To reach the museum by bus or tram, head to the Royale or Palais stops. Gare-Centrale (Central Station) is just around the corner for visitors coming by train or Metro. There is also a cafe on the top level with lovely views if you can get a window table.