improving museum and gallery acoustics

SonaSpray K-13 black in Tate Modern's spectacular South Oill Tank Gallery. SonaSpray in black provides excellent acoustics, ideal conditions for lighting control and in a darkened space the height of the ceiling appears infinite. Credit to Herzog & de Meuron.

When you’re taking in a piece of fine artwork or learning the story behind an exhibit, the last thing you want to experience is noisy distractions.

In museums and galleries with good acoustics, exhibit visitors get to fully appreciate the displays. When background noise is kept to a minimum, they can properly engage with the exhibits and leave feeling enriched by their visit.

This is just one of the reasons why good museum and gallery acoustics are essential to providing the best experience for paying attendees.

why are gallery and museum acoustics important?

Museums and galleries can serve multiple purposes. They might offer places for study but can also play host to guided tours, group activities and talks. Amidst that, some visitors will often want to discuss their thoughts on the exhibits, while others will prefer quiet contemplation.

It means the same space might have to accommodate different noise volumes for different purposes, often at the same time. It’s important to remember that galleries and museums aren’t meant to be libraries – but that doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to become annoyingly loud environments that distract visitors from the exhibits.

That can be difficult given the typical layout of exhibition halls. Open-plan exhibit areas offer lots of empty space for sound waves to travel across uninterrupted, and the glass coverings of paintings or displays gives them a hard, reflective surface to bounce off of. The result is usually reverberation, and a high level of background noise that builds and builds to create a distracting environment.

Products like acoustic panels can be installed to mitigate this effect, but museums and galleries are carefully designed to make sure their displays are the central focus. For owners looking to improve the experience of visitors, acoustic solutions that detract from the displays might be one step forward, two steps back.

SonaSpray K-13 Special in white applied directly to concrete soffit at Chisenhale Gallery, London.

enhancing museum and gallery acoustics without impacting design

The goal here should be to find acoustic solutions that provide quality acoustic control without drastically impacting the aesthetics of the museum or gallery.

Oscar Acoustics’ range of SonaSpray acoustic sprays provides a seamless finish that absorbs sound, making it possible to transform the acoustics of a space without transforming its design.

SonaSpray has been applied to multiple galleries and museums to enhance visitor experience and contribute to stunning building designs.

SonaSpray fcx acoustic ceiling spray throughout Colchester Visual Arts Centre.

museum and gallery acoustic projects

Tate Modern – South Oil Tank

Before it was transformed into one of the UK’s most celebrated modern art galleries, the building now known as Tate Modern had been a decommissioned electricity plant. The oil tanks, huge circular chambers left over from the old plant, had gone unused for years until it was decided they would be converted into the Tate’s newest art space.

These would act as learning areas and be equipped for a diverse programme of live events and performances including films and discussions, making it crucial that the space’s acoustics offered clarity. At the same time, any acoustic product would have to preserve the imposing industrial look of the chamber.

SonaSpray K-13 in black was applied to maintain the space’s industrial character and provide ideal conditions for lighting control. Its seamless finish reduced reverberation without taking away from the space’s striking aesthetic.

Learn more about our Tate Modern acoustic project.

Windermere Jetty Museum

SonaSpray fcx acoustic ceiling spray in Windermere Jetty Museum of boats, steam and stories. Credit to Carmody Groarke & Lakeland Arts.

Windermere Jetty Museum’s lakeside setting made for a fitting place for a boat collection, as well as a stunning view that enhances the aesthetics. To fully immerse visitors, Windermere Jetty Museum wanted museum acoustics that would make its boat exhibition halls and cafeteria as calming as the surrounding environment.

SonaSpray fcx acoustic spray was applied to the ceilings to absorb sound and prevent reverberation. Its flat finish and lightly pitted, seamless surface made sure that the space would remain attractive without distracting from the exhibits or surrounding views.

Learn more about our Windermere acoustic project.

acoustic solutions for galleries and museums

Oscar Acoustics supplies a range of premium acoustic products that can transform interiors into quieter, acoustically balanced spaces without drawing attention away from design. If you’d like to learn more about how your museum or gallery’s acoustics could be enhanced to create richer experiences for your visitors, get in touch.

get in touch with us

Trust the acoustic specialists at Oscar Acoustics to help you find the right solution for your next project.