Exhibition: Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound

This exhibition runs from Fri, 6th Oct 2017 to Sun, 11th Mar 2018. See all dates

This event runs over several days/weeks. Dates include:

Cost: Free of Charge

Visitors will have the opportunity to hear an eclectic mix of sounds from the archive including many rare and unpublished recordings. There are items on display from our rarely-seen collection of records, players and recorders, exploring how technology has transformed our listening experience.

This free exhibition will also highlight key moments and figures in the history of recorded sound, including the birth of the BBC, the rise of the pop charts, and 16-year-old Alfred Taylor, whose ‘Wireless Log’ in 1922 can be compared to modern-day vloggers and YouTubers.

Exhibitions highlights include:

Rarely-seen artefacts from the Library’s collection of cylinder machines, record players and tape recorders

Rare and unusual records from the collection including James Joyce reading from Ulysses in 1924 (one of the rarest literary spoken word discs in the British Library's collection and one of only two recordings of the voice of James Joyce), and the smallest 78 rpm disc ever issued, made for Queen Mary’s dolls’ house the same year

Seated listening stations with a menu of 100 sounds from the archive

An X-ray disc from Soviet Russia, playable stamps from the Kingdom of Bhutan, and historical and modern picture discs

Original ‘voice letter’ record-your-own-voice discs from the 1920s onward

An illustrated educational timeline of key moments in the story of recorded sound

Historic voices from the archive: from the testimonies of ordinary people, to famous names including Florence Nightingale, recorded at home in London, July 30, 1890; aviator Amelia Earhart, recorded in 1932 and part of what was possibly the first radio programme to be created by splicing together magnetic tape; writer Jorge Luis Borges live at the ICA in 1971; and poet Maya Angelou live at Lewisham Theatre in 1986

Contact and Booking Details

More information at this website.

No need to book tickets - just turn up on the day.


The British Library,

96 Euston Road, London,

Google Map of The British Library