University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

Museum of Zoology collecting Ocean Songs in Pevensey and Ely this summer

In November 2014 we launched the Ocean Song project, which combines public art with outreach, engaging communities in and around Cambridge with the redevelopment of the Museum of Zoology through the songs and sounds of the sea. We are working with one of the leading recorders of wildlife sounds today Chris Watson, choir leader Rowena Whitehead and Cameo, the education and outreach team from the University of Cambridge Department of Music, to run workshops exploring the sounds of the sea. Through the workshops we are also collecting voices to create our own ocean soundscape in the new Whale Hall being built to house our iconic Finback Whale skeleton as part of the Museum’s redevelopment.

whale foyer

We have been running these free workshops in schools, museums and other heritage sites across Cambridgeshire, and we have some exciting workshops coming up in the next couple of weeks.

On Sunday 23 August we will be in Pevensey, East Sussex running two workshops. There is an amazing opportunity to learn about recording wildlife sounds with Chris Watson as we collect the sounds of the sea where our Finback Whale washed ashore in 1865 – Normans Bay, Pevensey. We will be on the beach with recording equipment and hydrophones, documenting the wonderful atmosphere of this stretch of shingle beach that was the site of such an extraordinary event nearly 150 years ago. Chris has worked on countless natural history programmes, including many with Sir David Attenborough, and won awards for his work. You can catch his series audio postcards Soundstage on BBC Radio 4 every Monday morning at 9.30am from 17 August. You can book a place on this workshop be emailing us at

Then in the afternoon, Chris will be joined by Rowena Whitehead at St Nicolas’ Church, a beautiful, historic church next to Pevensey Castle, for a workhop collecting voices to weave into the soundscape of the sea. We will be listening to Chris’s recordings of the ocean, exploring our own voices and raising the roof with song and sounds inspired by the ocean. Book online for this workshop at

If Pevensey is too far away, we have two workshops closer to home this summer. We will be at Ely Museum on 27 August for workshops with Rowena Whitehead and the Museum of Zoology team. We will be going on a journey from shore to open ocean with the recordings of Chris Watson, and creating sounds and songs of the sea to record with Rowena Whitehead. We are running workshops at 3-4.30pm and 7-8.30pm, both of which can be booked online at

We want to collect as many voices as possible to weave in with the natural sounds of the world’s oceans where our Finback would have been swimming over 150 years ago, creating a wonderful, atmospheric sound installation to greet all of our visitors to the new Museum of Zoology.

More details about the project, and some of the recordings we have made so far, can be found on the Ocean Song blog

This project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.

Roz Wade, Interpretation and Learning Officer, Museum of Zoology

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This entry was posted on August 10, 2015 by in Culture, Events, Goal 2, News and tagged , , , .
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