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MassMu Exhibition Traces Early History of Sound Recording

News Release:  MassMu Exhibition Traces Early History of Sound Recording

Echo: The Early History of Sound Recording will open in the second-floor gallery of the Massillon Museum on Saturday, June 4, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in conjunction with the opening of the Readapt: Artwork Inspired by the Permanent Collection exhibition. Visitors will be able to view Echo from May 21 through October 30, 2016. 

The exhibit will examine the evolution of music recording today, examining the unfolding of recording from sheet music, live performance, the music box, and the revolution of the phonograph invented by Ohio native, Thomas Edison. 

In the 16th century, a German optician dreamt that echoes could be captured inside bottles, to be saved for later listening. "Like these captured reverberations, we are again hearing and preserving sounds from the past, nostalgically reviving what were formerly believed to be obsolete technologies,” said Massillon Museum Curator Heather Haden. “Sales of vinyl records are on the rise as an intergenerational audience enjoys what some may consider retro-chic or relics of a bygone era.  The lines outside record stores for the biannual Record Store Day are a testament to this fact. This exhibit questions the renewal of these old media by bending an ear to listen to the acoustic age of music up to the nascent electronic music industry in the late 1920s.” 

“What is on display in this exhibit is more than meets the eye, examining the nature of three intangibles: sound, memory, and time,” Haden said. The exhibition will include a harp piano; a Regina music box; photographs of early bands, the Burd Opera House, and music events in Massillon; sheet music; and an illuminated page from a Book of Hours. Many examples of the earliest sound reproduction technologies will be on view from the Massillon Museum permanent collection.  Other objects will be from the private collections of David Schultz and Justin A. Schaub: wax cylinders, a phonographic talking doll, Edison Home Phonographs, Victrolas, a Berliner, an Edison Diamond Disc, and an Amberola.

Haden is developing the Museum’s first touch screen app for inclusion in the exhibition.  It will allow visitors to hear the recordings stored on the displayed wax cylinders and also provide a chance to consider the difference between one of the earliest and most current sound reproduction technologies: the phonographic cylinder and the iPad MP3.  

To combine the historic themes of Echo and the contemporary nature of the Readapt exhibit, Dave Ignizio, owner of Akron’s Square Records, will mix old and new sounds on a turntable at the June 4 exhibition opening.

Visitors to the Echo exhibition at the Massillon Museum will also be able to see Readapt; Paul Brown and Racial Integration in Ohio Football; the Studio M exhibition, Older Than I: Photography by Jeremy Aronhalt; Las Mariposas: The Mirabal Sisters; and The Immel Circus.

The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark.

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon. Free parking is available on adjacent streets and in nearby city lots. For more information, call 330.833.4061 or visit A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free.

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