The Federation Handbells

A man and several students playing the Federation Handbells

These beautifully crafted instruments were originally commissioned by Arts Victoria for the 2001 Centenary of Federation. They have inspired performances from schools, community groups and professional organisations and can be used by players of all skill levels for any occasion or musical style.

You can borrow the Federation Handbells for public or private events, local festivals, school programs, commemorative occasions and performances. The Federation Handbells are managed by Museums Victoria's Outreach Program on behalf of Arts Victoria.


Federation Handbells. Close up of bells.
A Composition Workshop held for teachers at 'The Holy Family' School, Mt Waverly

The Bells are available for hire for up to three months. Collection and return is only possible on Wednesdays between 10am and 4pm.

Hire of the bells incurs an administration fee of $55 for every 4 sets, and the costs for their collection and return are covered by the hirer.

Hiring costs for up to three months are:
$55 for 1-4 sets
$110 for 5–8 sets
$165 for 9–12 sets
$220 for 13–16 sets

The cost then increases incrementally $55 for every 4 sets borrowed.

All costs are GST inclusive.

Get in touch

Contact the Federation Handbells Program Officer at [email protected] or call (03) 9392 4871. 

We would love to hear your stories and experiences with the Federation Handbells. If you'd like to share them, please email us.

Playing the bells

The Federation Handbells can be played by everyone, from new musicians to orchestral percussionists.

These handbells provide an excellent medium for introducing musical performance to children or adults. They assist in the development of many musical skills including listening, individual and team co-ordination, timing and rhythm, the handbells enable groups to achieve very effective musical results.

The Federation Handbells are cast in silicon bronze and have a unique design and pitch. Each set of bells covers two chromatic piano octaves (from E to E). The bells are played by striking them with a mallet. They can be played in the style of a xylophone by a single musician controlling a set of bells, or each musician can play one bell.

What to expect

Each set consists of 24 bells contained in four travelling crates that will fit in the back of a station wagon. The largest crate weighs 28 kg and the two largest crates require two people to lift them. The Federation Handbells range in size from 120mm high to 180mm high and have an average weight of 1kg each.

It is possible to borrow numerous sets of bells plus mallets and tilt brackets. The cost of their collection and return are to be covered by the hirer.


Create your own performance with these musical scores specifically composed for the Federation Handbells.

A man and several students playing the Federation Handbells

The Welcome project

Create your own performance of Welcome, a musical piece especially composed for the Federation Handbells.

Hands wielding mallets for striking the Federation Handbells

The Quiddity composition project

Compose your own music for the Federation Handbells, as either the solo instrument or strongly featured in a piece accompanied by other instruments or musical technologies.

Woman behind a music stand in front of colourful projections

Coral Bells

Preform Coral Bells a composition using the Federation Handbells to provide deepening connections with the Australian landscape.

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