John Kannenberg

Listening to Museums: curating the ephemeral sonic object

A Sound Map of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo (excerpt)

London College of Communication

How can listening to museum soundscapes help develop radical methods for the curation of sonic objects and a proposal for a Museum of Sound?

My research investigates the sonic experience of museums. Beginning with fieldwork (soundwalking, field recording), I am sonically/textually/visually mapping several museum soundscapes, developing critical ideas for the possible incorporation within them of sonic objects – sound art pieces, sound-making physical objects, recordings, and other audible cultural artefacts – a speculative term that refers conceptually to the visual/tactile object-based museum tradition that is itself under scrutiny in my research.

To interpret the soundwalking data, I use current notions of place/space poetics alongside theories of radical and multisensory curation. I will interview curators experienced in sonic object curation, creating an online interview archive for analysis, interpretation, and synthesis with the soundwalk data, to assist in writing my thesis proposition, and inform my curatorial research outcome: a group exhibition of sonic objects.

The exhibition’s catalogue will creatively develop the soundwalk and curatorial research, while the thesis will document, interpret, and contextually develop this process into a proposal for a Museum of Sound – an institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, and display of sonic objects.


Director of Studies: Dr John Wynne

Dr Lucy Steeds

Professor David Toop