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Soundscapes in Authentic Buildings

The most powerful part of a museum is the authentic experience. Few places offer an experience as powerful as in the original buildings, and few places speak to the visitor’s emotions and imagination as much as the floors where the people of the past have walked, around the furniture and objects they have used. Here there is everything, and yet something is missing. If we could take a person from the past and somehow place them back into their preserved room, they would immediately notice if the sofa had changed or if the piano were missing, but the same person would also notice if the sound from the street were different or if other prominent sounds were absent.

In this project, Aarhus University will collaborate with three Danish cultural history museums to develop the use and understanding of sound within museum communication in authentic buildings, where sound is regarded as immaterial cultural heritage and functions as an integral part of the authentic experience the buildings offer. In short, we will map out complete historical soundscapes of three authentic buildings and then design and implement soundscapes that contribute to the visitor’s experience of these buildings. The project will explore sound as design material and focus on materialising the sound ideas on which the desired museum experience is based.

CAVI and Audiodesign work within research fields that offer theory and methods that can create the framework for a common language, so that the museum’s vision and historical knowledge can be included in the development of the soundscapes. Our aim is therefore to develop specific methods to incorporate sound as material in the design process. This departs from previous research, which has primarily focused on sound as part of the finished product. The dissemination purpose of the project is to explore how to create innovative and effective sound communication at three selected museums in three authentic buildings. The sound should be both dynamic and discrete and should be experienced as a natural part of the room and authentic buildings and as in line with the authentic objects. The project will result in permanent audio installations in authentic buildings at the three museums.