Curator: The Museum Journal - Sonic Issue
“…this project has really brought home for me the knowledge that everyone who is capable of hearing is listening in their own way, and we all can learn things about listening by just listening to each other.”
In the 1991 book Exhibiting Cultures: The poetics and politics of museum display, Stephen Greenblatt introduced the concept of a museological ‘resonance’: the idea that objects on display within a museum exhibition ‘resonate’, or generate new meanings, via their relationships with the visitors who observe and interact with them. This approach to meaning‐making has since impacted greatly upon the strategies museum curators follow when selecting and juxtaposing physical objects. This paper explores how Greenblatt’s notion of museological resonance could be applied to the display of sounds themselves as cultural objects within a museum context. A mixtape or playlist‐inspired approach to constructivist learning is proposed to re‐imagine how sounds might be able to function within traditionally object‐based museum exhibition. Soundmarks – sounds that reoccur within local communities which help to define their unique cultural identity – are presented as a potential area of research and collection by museums, while post‐industrial soundmarks such as traffic signals for the visually impaired and the interface sounds of public transport systems are suggested as deserving of curatorial care via an expanded notion of intangible cultural heritage. Read Article >
As a supplement to the print issue, an interview with me about The Museum of Portable Sound has also been published on Curator’s discussion forum website.
Kathy Richmond, registrar for the Museum of London, did an excellent job conducting the interview, paring down three separate conversations into a cohesive discussion of my museum’s origins, how I feel it fits into museum practice, and possible future plans.
In this age of digital news and social media, our lives have become portable. The Museum of Portable Sound is a reflection on this, being both a sign of the times in its boundary-breaking approach, yet also a catalogue of the way in which sound has been used, experienced and perceived over time since we first were able to record it. This mobile museum was established in November 2015 in London, UK and allows visitors to arrange their experience on a one-to-one basis with the curator, or in small groups at a location and time of their choice. Though portable, the museum has galleries, temporary exhibitions and education programmes. With the museum set to receive its 1,000th visitor any day, I spoke with Director and Chief Curator, John Kannenberg about the development of the museum he has built, how it fosters human connections, and its place within the lexicon of museology and sound art. Read Article >