New Sound Gallery opens

A man listening to a recording at an exhibition with headphones.

The American Trust for the British Library has generously funded a new free exhibition dedicated to sound and moving image recordings.

The Library is home to the nation’s sound archive stretching back to the beginning of recorded sound. The new gallery features hundreds of recordings from our Unlocking our Sound Heritage project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The recordings cover everything from music dialects and interviews to poetry readings and the sounds of nature. Interactive screens allow visitors to access audiovisual collection items too, with curator playlists featuring some of our most treasured recordings.

There are over 7 million sound and video recordings in our archive. Highlights include:

  • Roald Dahl reading an excerpt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • John Steinbeck discussing the social issues that led to him writing The Grapes of Wrath
  • Calls from a male walrus off the coast of Canada
  • Ghanaian Atumpan ‘talking’ drums used to recite poetry and send messages across West Africa’s Asante kingdom
  • An audio message from Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan) to Thomas Edison, recorded on a wax cylinder in 1888.

We are very grateful to the American Trust for the British Library for helping us to share this fascinating area of our collection with more of our visitors.


Find out how your support has made a difference

Your support

Find our how your support has made a difference.

Playing our part

The importance of our archives proved ever greater during lockdown.

Opening up access to early manuscripts

A generous donation from The Goldhammer Foundation allowed us to make discoveries.

Extending our national reach

Thanks to the Helen Hamlyn Trust, more people than ever can engage with precious items.

Expanding our cultural programme

Our exhibitions reflect the richness of our collection and indulge every curiosity.

Insight into an exceptional mind

Bringing Leonardo da Vinci’s innovation to life through a creative partnership.

Meet Lenore

Lenore England set up the ‘Patricia G. and Jonathan S. England – British Library Innovation Fund’ to support us.

Growing our collection

Securing knowledge and culture for future generations.

The next generation

Inspiring online learning with the launch of Discovering Children’s Books.

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