We live most of our lives within a “sonic soup” of sound—human speech, natural noises like wind and water, wildlife, cars, machinery, and music, plus many other sources of auditory input. How do we sort through the cacophony to understand and interpret what we hear?
Listen: Making Sense of Sound is a new collection of Exploratorium experiences that let visitors investigate their perception of sound. The project integrates exhibit development, designed environments, visitor studies, and public programming to create a compelling and educational visitor experience.
Listen presents a wide range of scientific content, including the physical nature of sound, the physiology of hearing, and the capacity to listen attentively. New exhibits focus on how we tune in to specific aspects of the sounds around us, how auditory stimuli help us understand our environments, and how our cultural backgrounds can affect our definitions of music and noise. Visitors can experiment with rhythms and melodies and play with new ways of hearing that bypass their ears. In addition, through a series of media installations, a group of “expert listeners” will serve as virtual facilitators, sharing their unique sonic worlds with visitors.