Christopher Ford | Paris Musical Instrument Museum

Paris Musical Instrument Museum


The Paris Musical Instrument Museum is world renowned for its extensive collection of instruments collected from all around the world. However, the current museum location leaves little space to display the 6,000 piece collection, let alone expand it. This results in a highly restricted and compacted experience of the collection for museum visitors.

The proposed new museum is located within the historic Parc de la Villette nestled amongst the Paris Philharmonic and Paris Conservatory, securing Parc de la Villette’s role as a musical center for the city. The new museum is designed to challenge the traditional programmatic theories by displaying each instrument as a single piece within a larger story resulting in each and every single instrument of the collection to be on display. Through the use of state of the art information technology and choreographed way finding, the museum encourages a broader intellectual experience through the use of musical serendipity.

After many hours of research and site visits resulted in a proposed program and site, the focus of the semester shifted towards developing an innovative programmatic approach to the project. Therefore, the majority of the semester’s time was devoted to exploring this innovative thinking with less emphasis placed on the resulting structure.

My approach was to treat each piece of the collection as a book within a library. This required the categorization of all 6,000 instruments into four distinct instrument types; string, wind, percussion, and piano. Each type was given a unique branding identity providing the foundation for visitor way finding throughout the museum. Each instrument type was divided chronologically throughout the space and connected by a series of distinct circulation components including a singular ramp element. Additionally, multiple “experiential” nodes are scattered throughout the space allowing visitors to experience the playing, building, and listening of select instruments and musical pieces. The museum experience ends with a stroll through the temporary exhibition highlighting the influence of classical music on modern artists through the concept of reverse chronology.