Mobile phone museum to launch with support from Vodafone - Museums Association

Mobile phone museum to launch with support from Vodafone

Online museum to open in November with the brand as a long-term partner
Collections Sponsorship
Francesca Collins
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The collection includes more than 2,000 handsets
The collection includes more than 2,000 handsets Image courtesy of Unsplash

The “world’s most extensive” mobile phone museum is to launch digitally in November with support from telecommunications giant Vodafone.

The museum collection features more than 2,000 unique handsets from 200 different manufacturers, showcasing the evolution of mobile phones from 1984 to the present day. It aims to inspire the next generation of engineers and designers.

Vodafone has signed a five-year sponsorship deal to boost the development of the museum, which will be online-only at first. The partnership aims to enable the museum to reach a wider audience and continue its search for any missing handsets.

Founder and technology research analyst Ben Wood said: “I’ve been collecting phones for more than 25 years. Over the last three decades the mobile phone has become part of the fabric of society and the design diversity, from early transportable phones to the latest smartphones with flexible displays, is something to behold.

“When the online museum launches later this year, we want it to be a rich learning resource and a way to inspire young people to go on to create incredible mobile innovations of their own in the future.

“We are delighted to welcome Vodafone as our first major sponsor to help bring the museum to a wider audience and ensure that more people have the chance to be amazed and inspired by these devices and the fascinating history of mobile communications.”

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Wood and co-founder Matt Chatterley joined forces to make the museum a reality in 2019, after Wood had first explored ideas for a mobile phone museum in 2004. Both leveraged their industry connections to add rare and milestone devices to the collection.

Max Taylor, UK consumer director at Vodafone, said: “More than 35 years ago, Vodafone made the UK’s first mobile phone call on the Vodafone Transportable VT1, a handset which was the size of a car battery and weighed even more. Looking back at those early devices and everything which came later tells a fascinating story, not only of the technology itself and how it has evolved, but also of how we communicate.

“Our smartphones are now at the very centre of our world, and this is a fitting celebration of the role they play. We hope that by supporting Ben and Matt’s unique museum collection – the most comprehensive collection anywhere in the world – we’ll be able to help people reminisce about the devices they’ve had over the years, and get excited about what devices might be able to do for them in the future.”

While the project will launch as an online showcase, the team behind the museum hopes to work with other museums and sponsors in the future to curate pop-up exhibits of the devices in its collection.

The museum's website features its Most Wanted list, a call-out for donations of iconic handsets not yet in its collection, including the TAGHeuer Meridiist, Nokia 7705 Twist and Motorola Aura.

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