Sensory studies arises at the conjuncture (and within) the fields of anthropology • sociology • history • archeology • geography • communications • religion • philosophy • literature • art history • museology • film • mixed media • performance • phenomenology • disability • aesthetics • architecture • urbanism • design

Sensory Studies can also be divided along sensory lines into, for example, visual culture, auditory culture (or sound studies), smell culture, taste culture and the culture of touch, not to mention the sixth sense (however it might be defined)

Staging Sound in the Museum: The Ears-on Experience of History

Symposium Friday February 3, 2012
Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid, Hilversum
in cooperation with Maastricht University & Amsterdam Museum

Fee: €20 (including lunch and afternoon drinks)

This one day symposium focuses on the “ears-on” experience of history in the museum. Which historical topics are most suited for a sonic approach? How can sound be staged in such a way that it makes history more easily accessible than through visual means—and which pitfalls should be prevented? Which technical tools are available beyond the audio guide and sound shower? And which possibilities for sound as an entrance into history do we have outdoors, in the form of sound walks and cell phone apps for instance?

Our symposium focuses on sound in the history museum, sonic tools for the history, and sound beyond the history museum. Its is a day for museum staff members, radio makers, historians, scholars working on sound studies, and a more general audience interested in sound and history.

Among our speakers are Johanna Lehto-Vahtera (Museum of History and Contemporary Art, Turku, Finland) on “Soundway”, an exhibition without objects about medieval Turku, James Bryan & James Vyner ( about historical soundwalks, Arnoud Traa and others  on the Vanished Sounds 2.0 project, and Holger Schulze (Berlin University of the Arts) about experiencing audio guides.

The day will be opened by Andreas Fickers (Maastricht University) who will discuss new approaches to exhibiting history with help of sound. In addition, several representatives of companies will introduce their audio museum tools, and Annemarie de Wildt (Amsterdam Museum) will mediate a discussion between them and the audience.

Staging Sound in the Museum has been organized by Karin Bijsterveld and Andreas Fickers (Soundscapes of the Urban Past project, Maastricht University), Bas Agterberg (Beeld en Geluid) and  Annemarie de Wildt (curator Amsterdam Museum), and is funded by NWO, the Dutch Science Foundation. Language of the day will be English.

Program Schedule

Theme 1: Sound in the history museum

10:30-11:15   Andreas Fickers (Maastricht University) :
In Search of the Sonic Aura: Challenging the WYSIWYG Approach in Historical Exhibition Making

11:15-11:30   Coffee Break

11:30-12:15   Johanna Lehto-Vahtera (Museum of History and Contemporary Art Turku,
Finland) : Soundways: Exhibitions without Objects

12:15-13:30   Lunch

Theme 2: Sonic tools for the history museum

13:30-14:00    Presentations on sonic tools for the museum :
Robert Genereuz, Sennheiser Electronics           (
Heinz Rosenberg, Holosonics (pending) (

14.00-14.30   Discussion on best practices in using sonic tools in the museum between
companies’ representatives and the audience
Moderator: Drs. Annemarie de Wildt (Amsterdam Museum)

14:45-15:00 Tea Break

Theme 3: Sound beyond the history museum

15:00-15:30    James Bryan & James Vyner (
Bringing History to Life through Audio Tours

15:30-16:00   Arnoud Traa et al. (Beeld en Geluid – Vanished Sounds 2.0):
Historical Sound outside the Walled Garden: Crowd Sourced Sound
Archives in the Public Domain

16:00-16:30    Holger Schulze (Berlin University of the Arts): Experiencing Audio
Guides: Between Aural Architecture, Hörspiel & Soundwalks

after 16:30      Drinks