Sound is becoming an organic element in museum exhibitions, which are increasingly encouraging participation, interaction and experience in communicating cultural information to the visitors. This paper expands on this developing trend in order to address a core question that needs to be considered in museum sound design and exhibition design: what are the possibilities that open up once we recognise the agency of sound and the ways it affects the visitors’ experience? Common practices that use sound as an expressive means for conveying messages, for animating exhibits and for stimulating visitors’ attention can be enhanced, critically examined and, when appropriate, transformed by attending more closely to the specific features of sound as a distinct modality of cultural communication. Particular emphasis is placed on how the spatiotemporal qualities of sound experience can contribute to the reconsideration of the distance between the visitor and the exhibit, and thus enrich exhibition design as a cultural practice in the production of knowledge.
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