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Mobile Phone Museum launches as online repository for life-changing invention

Ugliest phone? The Nokia 7600, one of the first 3G handsets, launched in 2003 in conjunction with 100% Design exhibition London

The Mobile Phone Museum has opened its online carefully curated collection of more than 2,000 individual models from more than 200 different brands this week.

The rich diversity of the Mobile Phone Museum collection allows for a thorough examination of the history of mobile phones from their inception in the early 1980s to present day.

No other invention in recent memory has shaped how we live more fundamentally than the mobile phone

Founder Ben Wood

As well as forming a fascinating collection in their own right, the museum says its exhibits are an important history lesson about the impact of technology and design on social culture, behaviour and communication.

Donations are still being accepted and once a device is donated, it is catalogued, labelled, photographed and moved to the museum’s secure storage facility. The flow of new devices continues on an almost daily basis.

Each donor is recognised on the website and in addition to maintaining the collection, there is also an educational dimension to the project and in future the museum hopes to visit schools and provide resources to students to help them learn about the technology around them.

School children attend launch

The launch was celebrated with an exhibition in London’s Soho, co-hosted by five-year sponsor Vodafone and attended by a Year 2 class and their teacher from nearby Soho Parish primary school.

The children heard a ‘show and tell’ from founder Ben Wood and the Mobile Phone Museum education team, revealing some interesting facts about the devices we see around us every day and highlighting the increasing importance of sustainability in their design and use.

Wood said part of the museum’s aim was to help inspire the next generation of mobile industry engineers and designers.

Shaped how we live

Founder Ben Wood with some of his mobile phone collection

“No other invention in recent memory has shaped how we live more fundamentally than the mobile phone,” said Wood, who is also Chief Analyst at technology research firm CCS Insight.

“From mobile payments to citizen journalism, always-on social media and the ability to work anywhere, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of the mobile phone. It’s a privilege to be able to recognise and celebrate the devices and people who have made such a significant contribution to the world, as we preserve that history and make it available to all by launching the Mobile Phone Museum today.”

Rare and iconic devices

The Mobile Phone Museum project was conceived by Wood in 2004 but it was in 2019, when he joined forces with fellow mobile industry veteran Matt Chatterley, that the vision started to gather pace and the pair used their industry connections to add rare and iconic devices to the collection.

Categories include Ugliest Phones and Phones in Movies and each entry has a description about when the phone was launched and its credentials.

As well as Vodafone, the Mobile Phone Museum project has also been supported by technology research firm CCS Insight and mobile technology recovery and distribution experts Genuine Solutions.

This museum is designed to safeguard this important collection of mobile technology heritage and help fund further growth.

About the author – Adrian Murphy

Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.

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