During the COVID-19 pandemic, social life came to a standstill. Visiting places became restricted, so many of us found ourselves spending more time online. One fascinating online destination was the Mobile Phone Museum, which opened its virtual doors on November 23, 2021. This museum is the brainchild of Ben Wood, Chief Analyst at CCS Insight, and his colleagues. I had often wondered when a physical version of this museum might become available.
Finally, Ben shared exciting news. The time had come. Ben contacted us and shared thrilling updates about the Mobile Phone Museum project. They have now inaugurated their first in-person exhibition.
The journey from my last encounter with the museum story had been remarkable. The collection had grown by 30%, expanding from around 2,100 to an impressive 2,700 unique phones.
The only downside is that mobile phones are aging rapidly, becoming museum-worthy artifacts. Yet, this isn’t surprising, given the speed of smartphone evolution, and my age.
The Mobile Phone Museum initially started as a virtual museum hosted online at Mobilephonemuseum. In the beginning, the idea of a physical museum seemed unrealistic due to the significant costs involved, and the onset of the pandemic made a permanent physical location unfeasible. A virtual museum provided a cost-effective way to reach a global audience. It also allowed the team to develop their collection and related materials.
However, the overwhelming demand from people wanting to see the collection led to a collaboration with PK Porthcurno, the Museum of Global Communications. Together, they launched a new exhibition titled “Going Mobile,” which delves into the 40-year history of the mobile phone. This exhibition will remain open for at least 12 months, until October 2024.
For the first time, over 2,700 unique devices from the Mobile Phone Museum’s extraordinary collection, which includes 346 Nokia devices, will be on public display. The collection features significant devices such as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (signed by its inventor, Marty Cooper), the first camera phone, the first phone with built-in GPS, the first phone with a built-in MP3 player, and many more.
The team handpicked 70 key devices in mobile phone history, with 18 of them being Nokia devices – true legends:
– Nokia 7110
– Nokia 3650
– Nokia 2110 (ultra-rare limited edition cases)
– Nokia 8110 (limited edition gold variant)
– Nokia 5110 (with various XpressOn cases)
– Nokia 7110 (rare proto unit)
– Nokia 8310
– Nokia 7280 and Nokia 7380 (lipstick phone)
– Nokia 8800
– Nokia 9000 Communicator
– Nokia 7260
– Nokia N95
– Nokia 3310 (a true icon!)
– Nokia 6650 (world’s first 3G GSM/WCDMA handset to work in Europe, Asia, including Japan)
– Nokia 1011 (the first mass-market GSM 2G phone)
– Nokia Cityman 150
– Nokia Mobira Cityman 1320 (Gorba phone)
This exhibition not only brings the Mobile Phone Museum project into the spotlight but also paves the way for its future. A future pop-up exhibition is planned for 2025, marking 40 years since the first commercial mobile phone call was made in the UK by Vodafone.
Collaborating with PK Porthcurno will also support the Mobile Phone Museum’s charitable mission by advancing educational goals. Their focus is on inspiring the next generation of engineers and designers in the UK through their extensive collection of devices and learning resources.
In recent years, the appetite for information on the evolution of the mobile phone has grown, and there’s a strong sense of nostalgia surrounding technology milestones. This exhibition is also an excellent opportunity for Ben and his partners to potentially locate some of the missing Nokia phones, such as the Nokia 6108 and the Nokia 6708.
So, if you’re in the vicinity and have a fondness for old tech and Nokia devices, this exhibition offers a great way to spend a free weekend and explore some legendary phones in person. Titled ‘Going Mobile‘, the exhibition opened on October 21st and will be available at PK Porthcurno, Museum of Global Communications, until October 2024.
Share some photos when you get there!