The Emile Berliner Museum of Sound is an unusual collection of televisions, phonographs, and other artifacts that honor the history of produced sound held in a factory that used to produce the very machines it displays.
This fascinating, quasi-hidden museum of sound is tucked away on the second floor of a vast industrial loft which was once a former gramophone factory founded early in the 20th century by Emile Berliner, one of the pioneers of sound recording. A Jewish-German inventor who emigrated to Canada in the last years of the 19th century, Berliner became one of the most influential inventors in the field of produced audio. Among Berliner’s most famous creations are the microphones used for Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone, and the first flat records including the gramophones to play them on and the mastering process to mass-produce them. These innovations, in particular, were major leaps forward over the wax-cylinder system pioneered by Berliner’s (and everyone’s) rival Thomas Edison.
The Berliner Museum houses a fascinating collection of audio recording technology in a permanent exhibition and also maintains a revolving exhibition that changes each year. A self-guided tour invites visitors to explore the vast old factory. The museum’s mandate is the preservation and exhibition of any object related to the history and evolution of the creation, production, reproduction, recording, and broadcasting of sound. The Museum also collects acoustical and architectural plans and other documents related to sites important in the audio industry. Old televisions, rusted bell phonographs, children’s record players, and countless pieces of ephemera are stored away, but are displayed at special events. Online services include a digital archive, museum publications, and the catalog of a reference library.
Know Before You Go
The Museum is located at a former RCA Victor gramophone factory, now an industrial loft, not far from the Saint-Henri metro (subway) station. You may want to call in advance for specific directions because finding the museum even within the building isn't always easy. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.