What is the Museum of Portable Sound?
First and foremost, it’s a museum. Yes, a real museum.
The Museum of Portable Sound (est. London, UK, November 2015) is a portable museum dedicated to the culture of sound. Its headquarters is now located in Southsea, Portsmouth, and operates throughout the southern UK and anywhere its Director travels. Since May of 2020, the museum has conducted online visits via video chat, and has now been visited by people all across Europe, North America, South America, and China.
The Museum’s Permanent Collection Galleries are filled with sound objects: curated digital audio files located only on the Museum Director‘s mobile phone. The sounds in our museum can only be heard by visiting with our Director and listening to his mobile – there is no app available to download and the sounds are not available online in any form. Our museum is not an app – it’s an experience.
Our Permanent Collection Galleries are augmented with an ongoing series of temporary exhibits in our Exposition Space. A new Video Gallery has recently been added to the mobile, featuring content from our YouTube Channel and elsewhere to give our visitors another way to learn about the culture of sound. The Museum also holds a small Physical Object Collection related to portable sound.
The Museum’s Education Department offers continuing education classes related to sound and museums. We have also participated in educational programmes at the Courtauld Institute, the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, and Blossom House School in Motspur Park.
You can also read about us at the award-winning Objects of Sound blog.
Where has the Museum of Portable Sound been presented?
So far, we’ve presented the museum and conducted visits in eight countries – The UK, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Poland, Austria, Finland, and Azerbaijan – and fourteen cities – London, Bournemouth, Bradford, Gateshead, Oxford, Greenwich, Baku, Vienna, Lisbon, Warsaw, Karlsruhe, Tampere, Rome, and Venice. Now that we’re conducting Online Visits, we’ve had visitors from even more countries including Brazil, China, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States.
Our 2019 Grand Re-Re-Re-Opening Celebration took place at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, UK on 1 July, the 40th anniversary of the Sony Walkman. Our Director not only relaunched our Permanent Collection galleries at this event, but also gave a lecture on the history and cultural impact of the Walkman. In conjunction with this event, he appeared in several international news stories about the Walkman’s 40th birthday after being interviewed by the Associated Press.
We’ve been visited in, and presented at, some of the world’s most important cultural institutions, including the British Museum, the V&A (at a sound-themed Friday Late), the London Science Museum, the Museum of Childhood, the Wellcome Collection, the Courtauld Institute, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, London’s Sky Garden, London’s National Theatre, London’s Graduate Fashion Week, St Paul’s Cathedral, the British Library, Museums Showoff London, the Science + Media Museum, the Tyne & Wear Archives, the Shipley Art Gallery, the Discovery Museum, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, ZKM Center for Art and Media, MuseumsQuartier Wien, the Finnish Labour Museum Werstas, and the Moomin Museum.
We’ve been invited to present our museum at conferences around the world, including Sound Art Matters (Aarhus University); the International Sound Art Curating Conference (Aalborg University); the International Conference on Exhibiting Sounds of Changes (SOC Europe); and the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Archaeology and History conference on Museums, Collections, and Industrial Heritage (State Department of the Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisheher).
Our Director has lectured about our museum at UK and European universities and schools including the London College of Communication, the UCL Institute of Archaeology, Birkbeck University, the Royal College of Art, Royal Holloway, the University of Leicester Museum Studies programme, John Cabot University in Rome, and Blossom House School in New Malden.
We’ve been featured by STET bookshop in Lisbon, and have been visited in numerous cafés, restaurants, and pubs – including the oldest continuously operational coffee house in Europe. We’ve even conducted visits in people’s own homes. Since our museum is portable, the possibilities are endless!
Q: Is the Museum of Portable Sound a ‘real museum’?
A: Yes. Yes, we are a real museum. We’ve got tote bags and everything.
Q: I’ve been recording [INSERT RANDOM NAME OF SOUND HERE] for years, man, and you should really put my stuff in your museum.
A: Sorry, but we’re probably not interested. There are lots of other online projects where you can donate your own field recordings, so definitely check them out! Our project is not a conventionally crowdsourced soundmapping project or online record label – it’s a museum collection, and every sound included in our Permanent Collection Galleries has been scrutinised, studied, and included to support our museum’s mission and fulfil the specific goals of our curatorial team to tell the stories they want to tell through our objects.
Follow the Museum of Portable Sound on these sites:
Learn Even More About Us:
• Read our Mission Statement
• Get to know our Museum Staff
• Meet our Board of Directors
• Read Reviews
• Listen to our Podcasts
• Read our online Magazine
While you’re here…
…we need your help. For four years, we have managed to keep admission to the Museum of Portable Sound free for all. But this model hasn’t proven to be sustainable. If you value what we do, and would like to help us continue to fulfil our mission of bringing the culture of sound to the world one visitor at a time, please consider making a donation or supporting us long-term on Patreon.