Preservation of Oscar Sala’s audio tapes

Funded through the KUR – Programme for the Conservation of Moveable Cultural Assets

The Deutsches Museum in Munich is one of the world’s leading museums of technological and scientific history. A majority of its collection is devoted to electronic music, which is also one of the museum’s main focuses of research.
Recently the Deutsches Museum acquired the yet unreleased works by Oskar Sala (1910-2002). The musician, composer and natural scientist was one of the most influential pioneers of electro-acoustic music. Sala created sounds for numerous films, plays, radio shows and advertisements, e.g., the terrifying sound of screeching birds in Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds”.
The collection is comprised of 1,900 audio reels and tapes. Because Sala rarely transcribed his compositions to paper, the tapes were often the only existing copies of his works. They were acutely threatened as a result of decades of improper storage in Sala’s Berlin studio and the deterioration of the plastic coating on the magnetic tapes.
The main goal of this KUR project was to conserve the original tapes, the majority of which was copied one-to-one onto digital media – a measure that was essential for preserving the material for future research and analysis. The content of each tape was carefully documented as well, as the tapes often contained not only recordings but prior drafts and studies as well. The project also developed innovative models for preserving, documenting and digitalizing audio tapes. The results are to be presented in exhibitions at the Deutsches Museum. The project’s website ( (external link, opens in a new window)) provides insights into Sala’s life, works and unpublished material, and offers digital copies of his works to researchers and the public.

Project administrator:
Deutsches Museum in Munich

Cooperative partners:
Phonogram Archive of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna
Technical Museum of Vienna
State Institute for Music Research – Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz
University of Bath - National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Institute of Musicology

Museum Global?

The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the MMK Frankfurt wish to address the effects of globalisation and digitalisation in a project that explores the complex subject of “globalism” and the challenges it brings. With their project “museum global?” they scrutinise modernity and the canon upon which it is based.

Learn more about the project


Dr. Wilhelm Füßl

Dr. des. Silke Berdux

Deutsches Museum

Museumsinsel 1

80538 München

Tel.: +49 (0)89 2179220

archiv​(at)​ (external link, opens in a new window)