what will the museum of the future be like?
I'm currently researching audio/video/mobile interpretation. In particular, I'm interested in finding musical interpretation where a visitor can listen to a musical selection from the time period of the object (or objects in a gallery). Does anyone know of a museum or tour that does this? I have not been able to find an example. Often, however, audio tour content is not described on museum websites, so I'm hoping someone may know of something that may not be listed online. Thanks for your help!
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County created and presented this sort of exhibition in 2006. It was called 'Sonic Scenery: Music for Collections'. An onsite visitor could come to this exhibition and use their own audio device, with the variety of contemporary music selections downloaded in advance from the Internet, or rent a full system when at the museum, with an introduction from Esa-Pekka Salonen, music director of the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. The catalogue for this (and another exhibition), included a CD with all compositions, plus three bonus tracks. In 2007, the AAM gave his exhibition the Jim Blackaby Award for ingenuity.
The 'Handwritten' exhibition, currently showing at the National Library of Australia has a collection of original musical scores on display. When the visitor stands directly in front of a particular display cabinet, they will clearly hear the music while they view the manuscript. Sure - its a very direct and obvious way to bring a exhibition item like this to life - almost essential you might say in this situation.
However, the various peices of music being projected into the space was problematic I found, as they tended to leak into one another, causing a cacophany of sound. This noise then spread amongst the rest of the exhibition space in a way that made an already packed exhibit a little bit more brain-frying - although you could say that it lent a kind of atmosphere which *could* have conjured up the time and place from which some of the other displayed items were from.
Another example which may meet your criteria - the recent 'Mad Square' exhibition at the Art Gallery NSW had a film room. It played various silent films (I think, from a rusty memory) and the music from these films was clearly designed to wash out of the film room and into the final rooms of the exhibition. It created an amazing sense of atmosphere and context to the artworks and information on display in the final phases of the exhibition narrative - which was heading into the horrors of Germany in WW2. This exhibition was one of the few examples I've experienced where the use of multi-media, and its consequent noise issue, was used to fantastic advantage.
I hope these examples help!
Bethany, it's January 6, 2012, and there are recent general comments on music in exhibitions on Museum-L, which you may find relevant to your question. One point, that of copyright, is important and I recall that each piece for 'Sonic Scenery' at the Natural History Museum of LA County was composed and performed for the chosen installation area. There are other issues, especially those related to open sounds, the use of any musical or sound piece as background in a museum area, etc., that are worth considering carefully beforehand, both as part of an exhibit and on behalf of each visitor in or near an installation. I can understand sounds that seem relevant, but dislike the 'leakage' that often occurs into other areas.
Similar to the Natural History Museum, there were connections... Auckland War Memorial Museum also presented a 'Sonic Experience".
Rhythm, tone, noise, passion, beauty – these are things we may hope to experience in music, but what happens when we find them in a museum? We tend to expect museums to be silent places full of facts, to engage our intellects. By contrast, music seems to bypass the brain and plunge straight to the heart. But what if the two were combined in some way? With our senses opened up by music, how different might our experience of the museum be? What would we notice or learn that we hadn’t been aware of before? Sonic Museum is our chance to find out. Auckland Museum commissioned nine musicians and sound artists to explore how music and sound can add to and alter the experience of looking. In preparation, each of the artists spent time in their gallery of choice, exploring its environment and collection objects, its meanings and resonances, drawing on the knowledge and advice of the curators. We invite you now to see the museum through music and sound.
You might want to try looking at historic house museums; they tend to include period music on their tours in some way. The Byers-Evans House Museum in Denver, Colorado (www.historycolorado.org/museums/byers-evans-house-museum), has two such interpretations on its tour. The house is fully restored and furnished to the period 1912-1924 and has an old record player and megaphone that the visitors can try out. I hope that helps!!
The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia has a video that links vintage sound artefacts with sound recordings from their period, as well as historical film and stills from the period. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG6eAZMqfj0&list=PLD3ABE93586463...