Sounds of Christmas!

Young V&A Museum
November 27, 2017
Musical Christmas card, British, ca. 1950s. Museum No. B.397-2012

In celebration of all the sounds of season, the V&A Museum of Childhood has developed a new festive display, where visitors can explore the sounds of Christmas past as well as some familiar favourites. It features everything from traditional chimes to miniature musicians. The display will be situated on the Museum’s grand Marble Floor, and is the starting point for a specially commissioned audio trail, created by sound artist Neil Luck.

One of the miniature musicians in the Christmas display will magically come to life, to act as the guide for the Museum’s special Christmas audio trail. Under his direction, visitors will be transported around the Museum, into the display cases and even shrink down inside the objects to discover the hidden sounds and noises that the Museum’s rambunctious objects hold.


Working in collaboration with Neil, our aims were to create an audio trail which would throw open new narratives, offer our visitors an innovative way to explore the Museum’s objects and to hopefully spark their imaginations. As Neil explains:


The initial idea with this project was to create an ‘audio-walk’ that might draw you into a story, and surprise you. After all, Christmas is full of stories and surprises, isn’t it? This Museum is stacked with wonderful, weird and fun objects. By listening to this audio-walk you can imagine yourself shrinking down into the cabinets, and finding out what might be going on in there… What would Christmas dinner in a dolls’ house sound like? What would happen if you wound up a hundred clockwork Christmas presents at once?


We selected items from across the Museum’s permanent and handling collections to develop a library of noises which feature in this remarkable audio trail, and which will form a resource for future visitors to draw upon. To create this spectacular sound commission, Neil worked with a host of talented contributors, including narrator, Timmy Mallet, musicians ARCO and musarc, as well as the children from Globe Primary School in Bethnal Green. We are grateful to Neil and everyone who has been involved, with special thanks to Chinami Sakai and Lauren vonBechmann in the Museum’s Learning and Collection departments for all their hard work.

To listen to the V&A Museum of Childhood’s Christmas Audio Trail, please click: here

About the artist:

Neil Luck is a composer, performer and director based in London. He is interested in live performance, fallible bodies, the pathetic, the esoteric and the ridiculous. His works take a number of forms from staged music theatre works, to small scale performances, radio shows, workshops, curated festivals and recorded releases. He founded the experimental music theatre group ARCO and co-founded the artist cooperative squib-box.




About the author

Young V&A Museum
November 27, 2017

I am the curator for the upcoming exhibition Japan: Myths to Manga, which is opening on 14 October at Young V&A. The exhibition is a celebration of Japanese folktales and...

More from Katy Canales
0 comments so far, view or add yours

Add a comment

Please read our privacy policy to understand what we do with your data.


Join today and enjoy unlimited free entry to all V&A exhibitions, Members-only previews and more

Find out more


Find inspiration in our incredible range of exclusive gifts, jewellery, books, fashion, prints & posters and much more...

Find out more