Resonant sounds of London’s Museumland

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iconic Queen’s Tower at Imperial

I went to university at Imperial College, in the chi-chi London district of South Kensington.  The area has much to offer the field recordist in terms of resonant public spaces. If you want to avoid the rain or simply enjoy the soundscape  you can take the long pedestrian tunnel under Exhibition Road from the tube station to the museums.

I recently returned to Imperial and went to the Alumni reception who served excellent coffee, gratis. It’s a world away from the machine coffee and plastic cups and ‘coffee whitener’ that fuelled my studies in the Physics department many years ago. The entrance to the College from Exhibition Road is now an enclosed space with lots of glass and hard surfaces, it has an interesting acoustic of its own – I recorded this space from next to the statue of Queen Mary

Footfall Foley wizards will hear the tapping aren’t high heels which most people would associate with the percussive sound but Blakeys on a man’s shoes.

South Kensington has three lovely Victorian museums. Massive galleried spaces over several floors and often a curved vaulting ceiling. These are just made for binaural stereo!

I went to the Science Museum in Exhibition Road, part of a cluster of Victorian Museum buildings. The others are the Victoria and Albert and the Natural History Museum. The latter has an amazing curved atrium and a fine acoustic space.

In the Science Museum on the ground floor near the space exhibition

the next recording is from the Energy exhibition on the second floor, looking over the massive open space to the steam engines on the ground floor

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the sharp snap at 00:32 is an art exhibit marked do not touch, which of course everyone touches, resulting in a spark and a slight shock to the curious.

I enjoyed the visit and the incidental soundscapes. It is also good that Britain ended its dalliance with charging for museum entry.

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