Physical Objects Collection

The logo for the Museum of Portable Sound Physical Objects Collection is a large seashell, the kind you can hold up to your ear in order to "hear" the ocean.
Some of the Physical Objects acquired by the Museum of Portable Sound during 2021, most of which were donations. Photo courtesy Museum of Portable Sound Laboratories.

We are currently in the process of digitising our Physical Objects Collection to make it fully accessible online. You can follow our progress in realtime by viewing our now fully up-to-date Collection Spreadsheet and our in-progress Collection Photo Archive on When we have completed photographing the collection, we plan to integrate the photos and data into a searchable online database.

An Unexpected Collection

Our copy of the 1982 Philips Classics CD of Chopin Waltzes by Claudio Arrau, laid out on a wooden desk with its jewel case opened to reveal the disc and booklet inside.
The 1982 Philips Classics CD of Chopin Waltzes by Claudio Arrau – our first physical object acquisition.

In addition to our collection of sounds, The Museum of Portable Sound (MOPS) also holds a collection of physical objects related to sound. Although MOPS was originally conceived solely as a museum of sound recordings, we acquired our first physical object nearly a year before opening to the public. On the suggestion of future MOPS Board member Philip von Zweck, on 30 December 2014 we acquired the world’s first commercially manufactured Compact Disc, a copy of which von Zweck had noticed for sale second-hand on for US$0.25. Even though it was being sold by a record shop in London only a tube trip away from us at the time, since it was offered through the US Amazon site we were required to pay an additional £15 for international shipping – an early lesson in the harsh economic reality of museum acquisitions.

The Sharp MD-MT190H donated by Lydie Vantin.
The Sharp MD-MT190H donated by Lydie Vantin.

Once word began to spread of our intention to open a museum dedicated to sound, colleagues began donating physical objects even though the museum had not yet opened, nor was intended to exhibit anything but sound recordings.

The first donation occurred in London on 19 February 2015, when French fashion researcher Lydie Valentin donated a vintage Sharp MD-MT190H portable MiniDisc recorder, its user manual, carrying case, and an unopened FNAC 80-minute recordable MiniDisc.

Karel Doing (L) hands over the 1988 Ukrainian radio to our Director, London, 16 Dec 2015.

Shortly after MOPS finally opened to the public on 7 November 2015, we received a second physical object donation: a vintage 1988 Ukrainian AM/FM radio, donated by University of Cambridge research scientist Ekaterina Yonova-Doing, which was delivered to our Director by her husband, Dutch filmmaker Karel Doing.

With these three acquisitions, we could no longer deny that MOPS was now also in the Physical Objects business, and our collection has continued to grow – and receive extremely generous donations – ever since.

Collection Highlights

View a selection of some of the many fascinating objects in our Physical Objects Collection.

When you donate objects to the Museum of Portable Sound, you join an elite group of international philanthropists who have entrusted us to care for their historic objects related to sound. Please contact us to discuss any items you are interesting in donating.

Please note: We reserve the right to accept only objects that we feel help further the Museum’s mission, and therefore may not accept everything offered. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Object Database – Help!

We are hoping to create an online, searchable database of our Physical Objects Collection. If you are looking for a way to help our museum and have experience creating databases via the open source CreativeAccess platform, please get in touch! We would be happy to discuss the project with you in the context of an internship or volunteer work.

We need your help creating a CreativeAccess database for our Physical Objects Collection!

We Need Your Help!

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.

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