The Exhibition Catalogue As Printed Echo

When a museum exhibition ends, all we’re left with are memories.

Well, that and a catalogue.

Museum exhibitions are collaborative projects, culminations of the work of many people with a variety of skills: Continue reading

Listening to Museums: Sound Mapping Strategies for Visual Environments

I presented this paper at the 2015 Ecrea Media & The City conference at the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Zagreb.

You can read the abstract below.


The multisensory experience of museums is becoming increasingly relevant to curators, the visiting public, and academics, with many museums even beginning to include participatory activities based on listening to their own soundscapes in their public engagement programs. But what does it mean to listen to a visual environment? What are some effective strategies for engaging with a museum soundscape? Could listening to museums lead to the development of new cultural institutions devoted to sound? In my artistic practice, I have spent the last five years making sound maps of several museums and archives including the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (shortly before the Arab Spring revolution), the British Library’s Sound Archive, the Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Modern, and The Pitt Rivers at Oxford. Eschewing a top-down, Google Maps API approach, my sound maps exist as immersive sound compositions that lead the listener through an audio tour of a different kind, a cognitive map that juxtaposes the sounds of objects and environments in new configurations and contexts much like museum curators juxtapose items in exhibitions. In addition to the sound maps, I also make blind listening sketches of museum soundscapes in situ, closing my eyes and drawing the sounds I hear for a predetermined duration using a system of mark making that is gradually becoming a lexicon of museum sound symbols. My research into the sonic experience of museums presents these soundscapes as cognitive maps, my personal journeys that are moving closer and closer to an attempt to define the authentic essence of what museums sound like. In this paper, I document the inspirations and thinking behind my museum sound mapping strategies along with a selection of their results, including sound compositions, videos, and drawings that map my acts of listening to various museum spaces, archiving them for the future.

Why Listen to Museums?

This is the text of a talk I gave during the Soundscapes Late event at the National Gallery in London on 4 September, 2015. You can also download and listen to a recording of the talk on my SoundCloud page. Continue reading

Review: Samsung Digital Discovery Centre, British Museum, 8-9 August 2015

Stepping into the Virtual Reality Weekend Immersive Fulldome in the Great Court at the British Museum yesterday, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had read the press release for the event, and knew that I was about to experience a digital recreation of a 4,000 year-old bronze age roundhouse, complete with digitally scanned recreations of objects within the British Museum’s collections – but what form would this actually take? Continue reading

Studying Museums on Facebook

I’ve created a public group on Facebook called Studying Museums, where I’ve begun to share some Museum Studies-related news. It seemed to me like every Museum Studies group on Facebook was tethered to a specific university program, and it seems like the discipline would benefit from more open discussion. If you’re interested in museums, want to share articles you’ve discovered or even written, please join the group and enter the discussion!

Join the Studying Museums Facebook Group

Cultural Heritage in the Age of 3-D Printing: Rise of the Intangible?

A year ago, I wrote a post about 3-D printing and its impact on cultural heritage in the museum world. Last week, I presented an expanded version of the essay as a paper at the tenth annual Arts in Society conference at Imperial College London.

You can now read the paper on

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Towards a Methodology for a Museological Approach to Sound Curation: Defining the Acoustic Object

In working towards the establishment of a sound museum, it becomes essential to define what such an institution must collect, as the collection of objects has historically been viewed as essential to the mission of museums (Wittlin 1949, Macdonald 2011). While this notion has been gradually evolving to embrace intangible culture (Conn 2009, Gurian 2006), and work is developing related to the curation of sound in a museum context (Lobley 2015), I feel it is useful in the long term to propose an object-based methodology for sound curation centring around what I refer to as the acoustic object.
Continue reading