Sounds of the Museum

Sounds of the Museum

by Rosalie Lorenz

Sounds of the Museum focuses in particular on what a museum sounds like. “How do we feel when we visit a museum?”; “Which associations do we have?”; “What does this say about the space or the institution?”; Sounds of the Museum wants to pose these questions to the students, who then respond to them, inspired by sound installations.

Sounds of the Museum is based on a video series by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London entitled “ASMR at the museum”. As part of the project, students are to explore a museum on an acoustic level and then create soundscapes. Museums in Europe tend to focus heavily on visual reception – but the entire museum building has an impact on those who visit it. Drawing on Travis Alabanza’s performance “Left Outside Alone” (Queer and Now Festival 2017, Tate Britain), students will explore how the “sound” of a museum is also highly dependent on which voices and perspectives are invited by the institution. The video about Susan Philipsz’ sound work “The Voices” at Vienna’s Heldenplatz respectively Haus der Geschichte Österreich can be used to address which voices were (not) heard historically and which ones still resonate decades and centuries later.

  1. Input on historical development of European museums, such as:
    1. video: ASMR at the museum. Conserving a Eurovision dress. V&A.
    2. video: Performance by Travis Alabanza at the Tate Britain (2017).
    3. video: Making-of “The Voices” by Susan Philipsz.
  2. technical introduction to Audacity
  3. museum visit
    1. recording with cell phones and recording devices
    2. addressing the question “How do I feel in this room?” (this can take the form of a freewriting exercise, for example).
  4. listening to the recordings
  5. creating a sound collage
  6. presentation

Objectives/Competencies:

  1. knowledge of the history of the museum as an institution in the European area
  2. practicing institutional critique
  3. practicing recording and audio editing techniques and using appropriate software
  4. dealing with sound as an art form
A line drawing illustrates the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, with an oversized pair of headphones floating in front of it, which is connected to the museum via an audio cable.
Sounds of the Museum

Coverimage_Sounds of the Museum © 2022 by Rosalie Lorenz is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Rosalie Lorenz, studies at the Department Art and Education, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

Author’s Encouragements
I want to encourage every teacher to check out Audacity. Audacity is easy to understand and provides a good introduction to working with sound. It can be used to create very simple works; but also more complex ones, once the basic functions have been learned.