Skip to Content

John Kannenberg: The Museum of Portable Sound at the V&A, London

Kannenberg MOPS at Vand A
Photo ©2019 Hydar Dewachi 

During a recent Friday Late event at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, John Kannenberg (MFA 2012) presented his project, the Museum of Portable Sound, as part of an evening of sound-related events happening throughout the V&A galleries.

The event – Sonic Boom! – took place on the evening of February 22, 2019, featuring artists, researchers, and curators presenting and discussing sound works and their relationships with museums. Kannenberg began the evening by giving a presentation on his own museum and the sounds of other museums in a panel discussion, which also featured V&A Research Institute Visiting Professor Eric de Visscher and V&A Senior Curator of Design & Digital Corinna Gardner. 

Following the discussion, the Museum of Portable Sound was available for visiting in Room 52 of the V&A, a stunning gallery of paintings hung salon-style. Groups of five people at a time were taken on a guided tour of John’s museum, which consists of a single mobile phone (not an app!) filled with his own field recordings of sounds which have been categorised and curated following museum-style taxonomies. The mobile phone is accompanied by a 200-page Gallery Guide, designed and written to include all of the object labels and didactic texts that would normally exist on the walls inside a traditional museum. 

Visitors usually must make an appointment to visit the Museum of Portable Sound one-on-one with John, who suggests they bring their own headphones for health and safety purposes. 

More than fifty people visited the Museum of Portable Sound at the V&A event, and there have been more than one thousand visitors to the museum total since the project began in November of 2015. More information on the museum and how to arrange a visit can be found on its website, muse​u​mof​porta​ble​sound​.com.