Permanent Collection of Sounds

Logo for the Museum of Portable Sound Permanent Collection of Sounds

We began in 2015 as a museum of field recordings – sounds collected on portable equipment outside of a studio environment.

Our Director recording a drain pipe, Grand Rapids Natural History Museum (2009)
Our Director’s recorder in the doorway of the North Temple, Karanis, Egypt (2010)
Our Director recording at Maulbronn Monastery, Germany (2012)

About Our Sound Collection

Dr Kannenberg recording the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London (2014)

As the first of our four primary collections, our sounds are the backbone upon which our museum is built. The majority of our Permanent Collection of Sounds are field recordings made by Dr John Kannenberg, our museum’s creator & Director. He has been collecting field recordings of ordinary and extraordinary sounds for more than twenty years across dozens of cities and multiple continents – amassing thousands of hours of material from which he selected the first thirty sounds displayed in our museum when it originally opened in 2015.

Prior to creating the Museum of Portable Sound, John specialised in making field recordings inside other museums. Fifty of his museum recordings may be heard in the book & digital audio publication Audio Tour: The 4’33’’ Museum, which you can listen to on his website.

As the museum has expanded, we have acquired several sounds from other sources. These include recordings made by contemporary field recordists including Dr Leah Barclay, Khaled Kaddal, Dr Laura Kloepper, and Mike Hallenbeck.

Other sounds in our Permanent Collection include donations from the British Library Sound Archive, commercially available archival recordings, and public domain historical recordings.

Each of the 325 sounds currently on display in our museum has been carefully curated to tell engaging stories about the fascinating – and often overlooked – roles that sound has played throughout history, science, art, and culture.

Please Note!

Our Permanent Collection of Sounds is ONLY accessible during visits to our museum and is NOT available for listening on our website. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Exhibiting the Collection

The four floors of the Museum of Portable Sound:

1 - Natural History
2 - Science & Technology
3 - Architecture & Urban Design
4 - Art & Culture

The Permanent Collection Galleries of sound at the Museum of Portable Sound have been organised into four ‘floors’ which can be seen on our Museum Campus Map. Each floor’s theme is a category used by traditional museums to organise their physical objects, while the galleries on each floor explore the floor’s theme in more detail – but since our museum’s objects are digital files on an iPhone 4S, our ‘galleries’ are actually albums in the mobile’s iTunes app, and each album’s tracks are our collection’s sound recordings – sound objects, on audible display.

Highlights from the Permanent Collection of Sounds

See photos and waveforms of selected sounds on display in all four floors of our Permanent Collection Galleries.

To listen to the objects in our sound collection, book an Online Visit today from anywhere in world – and our Director will personally guide you through our museum via video chat!

Complete Object List of Sounds

Click here to download our FREE PDF Online Visitor Guide!

For a detailed listing of the complete collection of sound recordings we currently display in our Permanent Collection Galleries, download the FREE PDF of our Online Visitor Guide! It also includes details about eleven specially selected Guided Tours based on topics like Relaxation or Music; city tours including London, Chicago, Rome, and Cairo; and even our Chief Curator’s Top 40 favourite sounds!

City Tours logo
We offer 30-minute Guided Tours where you can listen to cities like Cairo, Chicago, Lisbon, London, Rome & Venice! Download our FREE Online Visitor Guide for more information.