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Help save the Phono Museum!

The survival of a unique facility dedicated to the history of recorded sound is at stake

About the project

About the Museum

The Phono Museum, at 53, boulevard de Rochechouart in the 9th arrondissement of Paris opened its doors in September 2014. This private museum operates thanks to the support of volunteers working for a foundation created under French law, "Phonoplanète - La Grande aventure du son enregistré" (The great adventure of recorded sound) whose mission is:

- Help the general public discover talking machines, the ancestors of turntables, CD players, and mp3 digital devices (phonographsGramophones, talking dolls, electric turntables, jukeboxes, tape recorders, and other sound players), from several private collections.

- Facilitating the sharing of knowledge about the history of recorded sound and the machines associated with it through the creation of classroom educational materials.

- Promote the national cultural dimension of talking machines and sound media.

- Offering musicians, film makers, photographers, etc. a unique location in Paris for concerts, documentaries, movies, etc.

- Organizing monthly concerts programmed under the musical direction of singer/composer Abed Azrié.

140 years of recorded sound history

The phonograph was the first mass-market product to be welcomed into homes, before radio and electricity. Already by 1930, in the famous film “A Nous la Liberté” by René Clair, which inspired Chaplin's “Modern Times', the phonograph was shown as the very emblem of modern industrial production.

With over 250 machines of the era, all in working condition, the Phono Museum shows the different stages in the history of recorded sound, from the cylinder and disc machines from the late 19th century up to the most recent technology. The museum relies on the technical and historical knowledge of its team of volunteers. The collection is complemented by over 50 posters and photographs of the era.

For example, the Phono Museum allows visitors to discover rare artifacts like the earliest tinfoil phonographs (1878), Thomas Edison's talking doll (1889), or the first machine to play recorded disc, created by Emile Berliner (1890).

The museum's dilemma

Despite the support and work of volunteers, the museum cannot survive on admission fees alone. Almost 34,000€ ($37,500) was invested in the preparation of the museum prior to opening, notably to allow access for people with disabilities.

Our request for funding from the City of Paris to assist in the operation of the museum has unfortunately met no response up to now, such that the association now finds itself in a delicate financial situation, with debt of 52,000€ ($57,500) owed to our landlords, Paris Habitat. 

We have received a demand for payment from Paris Habitat which puts us at risk of losing our lease, which would mean the immediate closure of the museum.

This is the moment of truth for the Phono Museum. This is why we are counting on your support in order to assure the survival of a unique place firmly linked to the cultural heritage of the nation and the world, situated mere steps away from the historic music-halls and 'cafés-concert' of the legendary Montmartre district of Belle Époque Paris, home of poets, writers, and Impressionist painters of the 19th century.

Our proposals

To thank you for your support we propose a series of thank you gifts which you will find in the column on the right side of this page, ranked according to the amount donated. Whatever the amount of the donation, and in addition to any selected gift, your names will be inscribed on our website and on the Wall of Donors with will be erected at the entry of the museum.

Among the awards proposed is the possibility to have a guided tour of the museum, but also the chance to participate in workshops to better understand how phonographs, both cylinder and disc, actually work.

You can also wander through the 9th and 2nd arrondissements to follow the traces of the first Parisian manufacturers and dealers of phonographs, or come dance in period costume at Belle Époque and Roaring 20s fancy dress parties where music of the periods will be played on the appropriate vintage machines.

If you dream of recording your own voice in this antique medium, we will offer you the opportunity to make a record on tinfoil, or a wax cylinder, as in the earliest years of recorded sound, and also to keep the recording you made. The individual recording booth (to be installed during the second semester of 2016) will allow you to record whatever you like and to leave with the finished disc record!

Finally we will allow you to sponsorone of the artifacts displayed in the Phono Museum, whether a talking machine, painting, poster, or other item. Your name will appear on the descriptive note displayed with the chosen item. The objects to be adopted can be seen here.

Another way to help us, at no cost this time, is to spread the word about us and to share this page with your contacts!

To follow this important project you can find us on  Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you so much for your support!

What are the funds for?

- Reimburse part of the debt owed to our landlord (6000€).

- Allow us to hire a full-time employee in the museum (4500€).

- Finance the installation of exterior signage (3500€).

- To continue with planned projects currently on hold, among which are:

  • building an individual recording booth to allow museum visitors to record their voice or an instrument on professional equipment (much as did Elvis Presley, whose two first recordings were made privately for his mother), and to take the record home (8500€).
  • building a space dedicated to researching public archives of recorded sound as well as documentary resources such as specialized publications, magazines of the era, commercial catalogs, old photographs, etc... (4000€).
  • organizing dance classes to teach dances of the era such as boston, charleston, tango, swing, cha cha cha etc.. accompanied by records of the era played on phonographs from the same era (1500€).
  • organizing an annual event on the boulvard Rochechouart central area to meet with musicians, artisans, and music professionals (500€).
  • organizing thematic conferences about the history of recorded sound, which will touch upon musical styles, specific eras, artists, or a particular record label (500€).
  • setting up temporary exhibitions in the museum and in other locations presenting artifacts from other private collections (1000€).

About the project owner

Jalal ARO

The opening of the Phono Museum in 2014 was initiated by Jalal Aro, recognized world-wide as a collector and specialist in talking machines and old records, and a member of the “Groupement National des Experts Certifiés et Agréés.” He has dealt in phonographs professionally since 2000, and in 2004 opened La Phonogalerie, located mere steps from the Phono Museum. This gallery is devoted to buying, selling, restoring, and renting talking machines and related materials.

His machines have been seen in a number of films, among them La Môme (Olivier Dahan, 2007), Un barrage contre le Pacifique (Rithy Panh, 2007), Inglorious Bastard (Quentin Tarantino, 2009), Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011), Magic in the Moonlight (Woody Allen, 2014), Marguerite (Xavier Giannoli, 2015), Planetarium (Rebecca Zlotowski, sortie prévue en 2016), Dalida (Lisa Azuelos, to be released in 2017), Django Reinhardt (Etienne Comar, to be released in 2017).

Henri Chamoux

Henri Chamoux is 'ingénieur d’études' at LARHRA (UMR CNRS 5190) and is recognized as an expert by the 'Direction du patrimoine et de l’architecture' for scientific instruments and early technology. In 1998 he invented the Archéophone, a machine capable of playing any type of phonographic cylinder record, and now found in all of the most important recording archives and libraries in the world. He is the author of the Phonobase, which allows anyone to listen to more than 10,000 commercial recordings made prior to 1914. With a doctorate in history, he devoted his thesis to recordings made in France of the Belle Époque (1893-1914).

Thomas Henry

Thomas Henry, 34 years of age, is a collector of 78rpm disc records and a specialist in non-western music. He is the author of the blog Ceints de bakélite and the creator of the interactive mapping project Disquaires de Paris.

Alain Régnier

Alain Régnier is the former Directeur des Systèmes d'Information (DSI) at the school SUPMECA in Saint-Ouen. Because of his expertise in information technology and communication in teaching he took special interest in the way the Phono Museum educates people about the technological aspect of sound recording, and from that created a teaching program. Alain will be in charge of the future recording studio in the museum.

Abed Azrié

Abed Azrié is a Franco-Syrian composer, singer, and writer with some 20 albums, several film scores, and many books to his credit. During his tours in Europe, the USA, and in Mexico, his music has met with public enthusiasm, captivated by both the modernism of his compositions and the universality of their message.

The Phono Museum operates thanks to the hard work of a team of volunteers: Charlotte Aro, Marie-Annick et Gérard Blottière, Nathalie Chapel, Thierry Combastet, Raffi Kassis, Hervé Noël, Neb Magnée, Didier Vincent et Maria Zamroud.