Speaking about the Museum of Portable Sound during Friday Late: Sonic Boom at the V&A, London, 22 February 2019. (Photo © Hydar Dewachi)


John Kannenberg is a multimedia artist, experimental curator, writer, and researcher whose work investigates sounds as cultural objects; the frontiers of digital heritage; the multisensory geography of museums; the nexus between parody, authenticity, and the absurd; the phenomenology of time; and the importance of listening as a cultural, political, and empathetic act.

In his current role as Director and Chief Curator of The Museum of Portable Sound, John has founded an institution that exists on a solitary mobile phone to research the collection, curation, and display of sounds as objects of cultural heritage while critiquing conventional museum practices and music industry-imposed limitations on the digital distribution of sound. As part of the museum's Education Department he teaches Listening to Museums, a course that combines readings and on-site museum listening sessions to explore ideas of museology and sound studies in tandem. 

He has given talks as an invited speaker on the topic of the sonic experience of museums on BBC Radio 4; at the Victoria & Albert Museum; London's National Gallery; the Sackler Research Forum at the Courtauld Institute of Art; the Royal College of Art in London; The University College London Institute of Archaeology; the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham; Bournemouth Film School; the University of Leicester Museum Studies Programme; and John Cabot University in Rome. He was awarded the 2017 Science Museum Group Journal Writing Prize for his article about sounds as museological objects of culture.

John’s work as an independent curator has included numerous exhibitions for radio, online and physical venues like the ZKM Medienmuseum; Northwestern University’s Herskovits Library of African Studies in Chicago; the Biennale of Electronic Arts in Perth; London's ResonanceFM art radio station; and a permanent display of ancient Egyptian soundmaking objects for the University of Michigan’s Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.

John’s media–spanning art practice emphasises process, rule making, and rule breaking. His work has been presented across the globe, including appearances at Tate Modern and the White Cube gallery in London; Cairo's 100Live electronic music festival; the First Glance video art festival in Tripoli; and Neighborhood Public Radio's project for the Whitney Biennial (duetting with Glenn Bach). John's drawings of the sounds of museum spaces have been published in Manifest Gallery's international drawing annual INDA10, and his sound maps of museums have been featured on Hyperallergic.com



Kannenberg, J. (2019) Museum of Portable Sound Gallery Guide, 3rd Edition. London & Portsmouth. Museum of Portable Sound Press.

Kannenberg, J. (2012) Hours of Infinity: recording the imperfect eternal, Ann Arbor, Mich., Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.


Kannenberg, J. (2019) ‘Soundmarks as Objects of Curatorial Care.’ Curator: The Museum Journal. Vol. 62, Issue 3.

Richmond, K. (2019) ‘Breaking the (Museum of) Sound Barrier: An interview with John Kannenberg.’ Curator: The Museum Journal. Vol. 62, Issue 3 [online].

Kannenberg, J. and von Zweck, P. (2019). ‘An Undefined Sound.’ Portable Gray. Vol. 2, No. 1. University of Chicago Press.

Kannenberg, J. (2017). ‘Towards a more sonically inclusive museum practice: a new definition of the “sound object”.’ Science Museum Group Journal. Issue 08 [online]. Awarded 2017 Science Museum Group Journal Writing Prize.

Boon, Tim; Jamieson, Annie; Kannenberg, J.; Kolkowski, Aleks; and Mansell, James (2017). ‘Organising Sound: How a research network might help structure an exhibition.Science Museum Group Journal. Issue 8 [online].

Kannenberg, J. (2016). ‘Listening to Museums: Sound mapping towards a sonically inclusive museology.Museological Review. Issue 20 [online].

Kannenberg, J. (2016). ‘Why Listen to Museums?’ Uniformagazine. No. 6. Devon: Colin Sackett Press.

Kannenberg, J. (2014) ‘Listening to Karanis: The Mer-Wer Remix Project,’ In Karanis Revealed: Discovering the Past and Present of a Michigan Excavation in Egypt, Wilfong, T. G. (ed.), Ann Arbor, Mich., Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, pp. 179–181.

Kannenberg, J. (2014). ‘Mapping the Sounds of Collections: Listening to Museums and Archives.’ News Quarterly, World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. Vol. 11, No. 1 [online].

Kannenberg, J. (2013). ‘Listening to the Active Sounds of History: field recording and museums.’ Sound and Vision Blog. London: British Library [online].

Kannenberg, J. (2009) ‘Landscape I: Vanishing Point,’ In Notations 21, Sauer, T. (ed.), New York, N.Y, Mark Batty Publisher, pp. 115–116.

Media Appearances

The Unlikely Cassette Comeback Isn’t Over Yet: Sales Are Up in 2019, WIRED UK, July 2019

The Sony Walkman Turns 40, Associated Press, London, July 2019

Public Work Podcast, Brown University Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, May 2018

The Future of Silence, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, April 2018

From elsewhere to everywhere: Evolving the distributed museum into the pervasive museum.’ Vince Dziekan and Nancy Proctor. The Routledge Handbook of Museums, Media and Communication, 2918, p. 187. [Chapter discusses the exhibition of my Sound Map of the Art Institute of Chicago at the 2015 Museums & the Web conference in Chicago.]

Artists and Friends podcast, interview with Central Saint Martins curatorial students, April 2017

Review of Museum of Portable Sound, Londonist.com, April 2017

Review of Museum of Portable Sound, Museums Journal, February 2017

'Gallery Whispers and Lunch in the Café: Mapping Museums Through Their Sounds,' profile on Hyperallergic.com, August 2014



Soundmarks as objects of curatorial care: The exhibition of audio recordings within a museological context
Art History: Undisciplined, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London
19/20 June

Sounds as objects of culture: Exhibition strategies at the Museum of Portable Sound
Exhibiting Sounds of Changes
The Finnish Labour Museum Werstas, Tampere, Finland
11–13 June

Listening to Culture: The Museum of Portable Sound
Science Museum Summer Research Seminar Series, London
8 May

Listening to Culture: The Museum of Portable Sound
Visiting Practitioners Series, London College of Communication
26 April

Panel Discussion with Eric de Visscher and Emily Candela
Listening to the Museum : People, Places, Objects. Aural Culture in the 21st-century Museum
The V&A, London
16 February


Intangible Culture in an Expanded Field: The Collections of Audio Interfaces & Transport at The Museum of Portable Sound
Science Museum Group Research Conference
Science + Media Museum, Bradford, UK
23 November

Intangible Industrial Heritage: The Collections of Audio Interfaces & Transport at The Museum of Portable Sound
Museums, Collections, and Industrial Heritage – International Committee for Museums and Collections of Archaeology and History Conference
Baku, Azerbaijan
5 October

Curating Sounds as Objects of Culture and Human Agency
Resonant Worlds: Sound, Art & Science – International Sound Art Curating Conference Series
ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany
29 September

Sonic Events Native Within the Museum Soundscape
College Art Association, New York
16 February


What is the Museum of Portable Sound?
Museums Showoff
The Phoenix, London
18 October

The Museum of Portable Sound: Establishing a paleonomy of the sound object within museology
Research Week, University of Leicester Department of Museum Studies
Leicester, UK
22 June

The Museum of Portable Sound: Establishing a 21st century museum without walls, a paleonomy of the ‘sound object,’ and a case for a more sonically inclusive museology
Sound Art Matters
Aarhus University, Denmark
1 June


Listening to Museums: Sound Mapping Strategies for Visual Environments
Media and the City – European Communication Research and Education Association
24 September

Cultural Heritage in the Age of 3D Printing: Rise of the Intangible?
Arts in Society
Imperial College London
24 July


A Sound Map of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Crossing Listening Paths – World Forum for Acoustic Ecology annual conference
Ionian University, Corfu, Greece
3–7 October

Invited Lectures


Audio Research Cluster 
University for the Creative Arts
Farnham, Surrey
26 November

Museum Studies MA course
Institute of Archaeology
University College London
13 November

Pathways to the Past MA course
Royal Holloway
University of London
2 February


Museum Studies MA course
Institute of Archaeology
University College London
31 October

Information Experience Design MA course
Royal College of Art, London
9 June

Department of Communications
John Cabot University
Rome, Italy
10 April

The Courtauld Institute of Art, London
15 March

Tyneside Sounds Society
Shipley Art Gallery
Newcastle, UK
10 March


Points of Listening lecture series
London College of Communication
11 November


Sound Art & Performance MA course
University of Surrey – Guildford
25 March


Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums, 2017
Kenyon College Art Department, 2012
So.Cal.Sonic, Long Beach, California, 2005