Seoul welcomes the world’s first audio museum

The Audeum Audio Museum is a temple of sound

Audiophiles have a new pilgrimage spot as the world’s first dedicated audio museum has opened in a residential corner of Seoul.

The Audeum Audio Museum was established by Michael Chung, founder of Korean audio specialist Silbatone Acoustics, in memory of his late father. Audeum is the first public institution dedicated solely to audio equipment.

Chung tapped Japanese architect Kengo Kuma to design the new museum as a temple of sound. Kuma is known for his organically inspired designs, which promote synergy with nature, and Audeum continues this trope. Located in Seocho-gu, away from the din and bustle of downtown Seoul, it is backdropped by views of the Cheonggye mountain and the museum – which soft-launched on June 5 – features a striking façade that resembles hundreds of tightly packed organ pipes or the vertical stratification of natural rock formations.

Audeum spans seven stories and has 224,246 square meters of exhibition space. Inside, it has a series of acoustically engineered spaces for exhibiting the museum’s extensive, world-class collection of sound reproduction equipment from the 19th century to the present day.

‘With a focus on preservation and research, Audeum strives to expand and redefine the conventional listening experience by connecting historical sound reproduction technology with the broader world of art,’ says the museum.

Its inaugural exhibition, “Jung Eum”: In Search of Sound, explores the hunt for ‘good sound’ reproduction and the creation of high-fidelity or ‘Hi-Fi’ sound. Among the items on show are the 16-A and 16-B Sound Systems by Western Electric, which were used in small theatres in 1932, and the Lansing Iconic loudspeaker from 1937—the loudspeaker that kicked off the evolution of home audio technology.

Western Electric’s 12-A and 13-A Sound Systems are also on show – the world’s first large cinema sound system with snail-shaped horns that unfolded to a length of 4 meters, required to play music. This model is credited with heralding the end of the Silent Era and the beginning of the ‘Talkies’, used for the 1927 film The Jazz Singer.

The Audeum Audio Museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00. Admission is free, though only by appointment. You can book online directly from the Audeum website.

Photography: Audeum Audio Museum
Photography: Audeum Audio Museum

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