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Travel around the world in a thousand sounds
Posted on 23/04/2020

CultureUnited Kingdom

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Do you know what the bells of Big Ben sound like, can you imagine the noise it makes when water falls on the highest waterfall in Germany, or on the toilet bowl in Freud's house in Vienna? These, and many other sounds, are available at the Portable Sound Museum.

A journey around the world with sounds

A journey around the world with sounds
© Michal Bednarek / 123RF

Since 2015, the Museum of Portable Sound offers a unique and unconventional experience: travelling the world with sounds. And now this museum, which used to regularly move around London's cafes and venues, even comes to your home with online tours.

In fact, the museum does not have a fixed location or schedule. To visit it, you have to make an appointment with John Kannenberg, its director and founder. He will then meet people in London in order to give them the content to access the experience.

To start the visit, you will need a standard headset, through which you will be able to access all the sounds in the exhibition, recorded on the director's phone, an iPhone 4S. The Sound Museum is divided into 30 galleries organised by themes: Natural History, Science and Technology, Architecture and Urban Design and Art and Culture.

Each participant is given a guide containing a description of the audio tracks and additional curious information. Kannenberg's imagination and expertise do the rest.

The visit can last as long as you want, but you have to take into account that the galleries of the permanent collections contain more than 5 hours of content to listen to. It is normal to follow one of the proposed tours, although you can also choose the audio tracks from the catalogue and search for them in the application on your phone.

For the online tour, it is a similar procedure: you have to contact the organisation to arrange a 'visit' with John Kannenberg, which will be done through a video chat where he can show people some of its physical objects collections, such as the first CD that was released in 1980 by Philips Classics, a mini karaoke microphone or a stylophone.

During physical visits, you will be asked for a donation, but there is no official entrance fee. But because of the exceptional situation we are in, the museum's funding has been reduced, so it is now necessary to pay for the experience.

It will contribute to the collection, preservation and exhibition of the sounds, considered to be a part of our cultural heritage, and also to maintaining the permanent collection of musical objects.

The Portable Sound Museum has been in operation for 5 years. It has received more than 1500 visits and has moved through 8 countries. Most importantly, it is the result of many years of work collecting objects and sounds of the world, some natural and others closely linked to our history.

For example, one of the recordings available is from the celebration of the Pride Parade (LGBT Pride Day) in San Francisco in 2008, when homosexual marriage was finally legalised. It could be said that Kannenberg is also, in his own way, a living history recorder. And, based on the opinions of those who have visited the museum, his work doesn't leave you indifferent.