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Introducing The Museum of Psychphonics
Posted March 02, 2016 by Seth Johnson

The Museum of Psychphonics is not your typical museum.

Located in a mysterious nook of the Joyful Noise Recordings record store in Fountain Square, the museum has accurately been described as a “labyrinth of perpetual surprise and delight” filled with vibrations of the psychphonic variety. This Friday, the space will celebrate its grand opening, with DJ sets from Sedcairn Archives, Oreo Jones and DJ Little Town.

Beforehand, Seth Johnson chatted with museum conductor Kipp Normand while also getting a sneak peek of the space.

 

Seth Johnson: How did the idea for the museum first come about?

Kipp Normand: This is the brainchild of Michael Kaufmann, who was involved in Asthmatic Kitty Records. He’s been living in Indianapolis for quite a while now, and he’s always been interested in small museums like this. He thought that Indianapolis could certainly benefit from ramping up the weird, and he thought this would be a really fun way to do that.

There are a lot of small museums in this city that many people don’t know about, and we’re happy to be among them. We’ll be promoting the tiny museum of political paraphernalia that’s at the Benjamin Harrison home, and the Medical History Museum that’s at the grounds of Central State. But since Michael’s primary interest is music, he thought it would be great to have a museum about the interconnectedness of music, mystery, spiritual realms, popular culture, science fiction, and just things that are generally considered out of the ordinary. 

 

SJ: When you first began putting the museum together, were there any overarching guidelines you had in mind?

KN: The fundamental guideline essentially was the smallness of the space. We wanted it to feel rich and full yet not cluttered, so that was a challenge. We also wanted it to be mysterious and beautiful. The primary thing was we wanted to create an environment in which to display our primary artifact and that is the [P-Funk] Mothership. That’s the most significant resource that we’ve got on display in the museum, and that’s going to be our highlight. So we thought about ways that we could do that that would create something people could experience over and over.

We will have some changing exhibits through here, and there will be different things happening. I’m really excited about the opening this Friday because there will be a music show in the Joyful Noise venue that highlights some of the things that we’ve been working on here. Mike has also commissioned composers and other musicians who are writing music inspired by the objects in this place and also inspired by certain events in Indianapolis history. Those will be ready and playing through these 1940’s speakers. We’ve also got a working stereo here that will allow us to have listening parties in the space.

 

SJ: What personally excites you about being involved with the museum?

KN: I love museums. I’m a museum addict. I love to go places and experience different cities and communities via their museums. Sometimes, it’s a combination of high culture and low culture. I love fancy art museums and museums of natural history, but I also love the museums that are put together by the local historical societies where they have the handwritten labels and things are stuck together with Scotch tape. Those tell the stories of the communities in which they exist. That’s one of the things I wanted to evoke in this place.

I’ve also had wonderfully transformative experiences in other museums that are also art installations, like the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Venice Beach, which is absolutely fantastic. It’s really small and really dark, and much of the stuff in there isn’t real yet you’d never know that. It’s presented in a way that’s completely straightforward. Quite a bit of the stuff on display in that museum is real as well, but you can’t tell the difference. It makes you think about what you’re seeing. Can you trust what you’re seeing? Can you trust what someone is telling you? Is this real? Is this false? And, if it is false, does it matter? Sometimes the myth and the story are more tangible and more interesting than actual facts.

 

SJ: What are some things you hope that people take away after experiencing the museum?

KN: I want them to feel like they’re in a place that’s maybe always been here and no one ever knew about it. That’s why the design of the interior is inspired by old lodge rooms and mysterious places of sideshow venues. We wanted to create an aura of mystery, and we also wanted it to be really beautiful.

We wanted to give people something to think about. Like, “What is the role of music in their lives?” So many people have favorite songs. So many people’s memory is transported by hearing something that reminds them of an event in their past. Music can be extremely inspiring. Music can change your emotional state. It can affect your sense of wellbeing in ways that many art forms cannot.

All photos by Matt Beuoy

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