6.7. Voices

The use of voices is not customary in museums. Audio effects are rarely used, if at all. With the appearance of interactive, computer supported applications, voices have become a viable component of exhibitions. Perhaps it is loud pop music forced on visitors of shopping malls (and driving some of them away) that prevents the organisers of exhibitions from involving our auditory organs in the museum experience. Music suited to the style and content of a display is, however, a welcome supplement that visitors generally appreciate. In some cases, using on-demand voice applications is important for in-depth appreciation. For example, if ancient or exotic music instruments are exhibited, we should demonstrate how they sound. It is a remarkable experience to hear how a bird whistles – a melody we have heard before, but do not know what kind of bird produces this delightful sound. In a history exhibition, hearing an eye-witness talk about an important event is striking.

In these cases, sound is as important as textual explanation, or even more so, because the result is an experience, not just a new piece of knowledge. Increased attention, longer lingering in a museum hall, deeper memories and richer associations are provided, if visual effects are supplemented by audio sensations.