To create and maintain a public museum in Austin, Texas dedicated to the research, acquisition, restoration and preservation of vintage sound recording devices, their inventors, manufactures, engineers, documentation and history. The Museum will also serve as an educational resource for those interested in the sound recording industry and its impact on music, broadcasting, film/video and science.
The core of the Museum's colection is the magnetic sound recording devices and their tremendous impact on sound recording from 1935 through the 1980's.
Displays will include the history of all sound recording from the 1800's to the present, including information on analog, magnetic and digital recording processes.
In addition to the sound recording devices, the Museum will display documentation of the devices; profiles of the inventors, manufacturing companies; recording engineers/producers and supporting technology. This includes working demonstrations, interactive displays, restorations area and two period demonstration studios tied to a small presentation and performance theater.
The Museum will include specific sections that have been enhanced by sound recording divided by: broadcasting, education, film/video/video games, music and science. So each of these areas will be based on the sound recording technology and filled in with examples from the various areas. These display will not be all inclusive, but representative of each area.
Support and visitor services including an educational library, a small store/cafe, administrative offices and rest rooms. Here's a link to a design draft by our Board member and architect Lloyd Cates. In the Spring of 2015, University of Texas third year Architectural Interior Design students also completed 11 independent designs for our Museum.
The more information we gathered about a permanent location, the more the project took on a life of its own. We discovered a variety of museums that have various technology displays, including the Grammy Museum, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting (which is open only part time). However, we found no public museum that preserves and makes available not just the sound technology, but other related vintage media collections as well.
There is no one museum solely dedicated to the development and display of devices of acoustic and magnetic sound recording. In the US, there are numerous collections and museums based on memorabilia of famous recording artists, some of which include one or two recording devices, however none with this sole purpose. There are museums that celebrate the history of broadcasting and television, however the displays include few reel to reel tape recorders. The Theophilus collection of 180 reel tape recorders is one of the larger collections in the US. Items to be loaned/donated from this collection will form the core of the initial museum offerings. The Theophilus collection was initiated in 1998 and in addition to the 180+ reel tape recorders and 100+ microphones the collection includes some 20,000 pictures and documents in the on line museum which is free and receives 1 million hits per month. This collection is also unique in that it not only can demonstrate actual working recording devices, the collection also includes extensive documentation and is displayed in a recording studio setting with related historical artifacts.
Unfortunately a great deal of information and many of the magnetic sound recording devices are slowly disappearing. The first magnetic tape recorder was created in Germany in 1934. The majority of the world's magnetic tape recorder companies came into existence post World War II. John Boyers, the last remaining founder of one of America's significant tape recorder manufacturers, Magnecord Recorder Company, passed away the end of September 2012. Robert Metzner,the founder of Roberts Recorders/Califone/Rheem is now in his mid 90's. Like WW II veterans, we are losing the significant folks in this brief period of sound recording history. Their information needs to be documented and recording memorabilia archived. The devices themselves began being discarded in the 1980’s. There are still numerous units, many with significant historical value that can be saved from our landfills.
Why Austin? Sound recording encompasses broadcasters, educational institutions, film, video, science and all forms of media. Interestingly the very first known sound recording occurred in 1857. That recording had no means of replay. It wasn't until 2008 that technology enabled the recording to be reproduced. It turned out the be the French folk song "By the Light of the Moon." Music recording has driven many of the innovations in magnetic sound recording. Austin, Texas is the "Live Music Capitol of the World" and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors specific to the music and recording industry through South by Southwest (50,000 attendees); The Austin City Limits television series; the Austin City Limits Festival (70,000 attendees a day for 3 days) and numerous other events. This provides the perfect setting for folks interested in the history of sound recording to tour the Museum of Magnetic Sound Recording. Help us provide a permanent home for the Magnetic Sound Recording Museum!
Please take our Museum Survey • Statistics 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • KXAN Austin Recording Museum Update • view overview video of tape recorder collection • mobile video • more info
Unfortunately, the museum is only available on line. Please assist us in making this mission a reality!