In 2020, the #SonicFriday project transformed a national museum’s relationship with sound and its audiences. Through three months of creative engagement on digital platforms, audiences found their voice at a time when the world was in pandemic lockdown and museums had to close their doors.
Inspired by its world-leading collection of Sound Technologies, the National Science and Media Museum (Bradford, UK) invited social media users to share memories and stories around their personal relationship with sound culture: from cassettes, CDs and mp3s to digital sampling and lockdown sounds. The project was designed in collaboration with the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies to find new ways to make audiences interact with the museum objects and connect them with people’s lives.
The response of audiences was unexpected, with more than 250 digital memories shared by online users and museum volunteers across different platforms. These memories not only enriched the collection, giving birth to YouTube playlists, multimedia galleries and sound maps, but they gave life to the objects that, until then, remained silent in the physical galleries.
#SonicFriday received two GLAMi Awards recognising its ability to create a more personal and emotional connection with museum objects, but also to offer online audiences the opportunity to became curators of a collaborative story. A new, thrilling interrogative arose from the project: can sound and personal memories be part of the museum collections as a new post-digital form of heritage? This is one of the questions that is informing the development of the upcoming Sound and Vision galleries at the museum.
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