John Peel’s record collection becomes an interactive online archive

2 May 2012

One of the most celebrated and revered record collections in the world will be made available to the public for the first time through an interactive online museum.

Music legend John Peel spent four decades collecting more than 26,000 LPs, 40,000 singles and thousands of CDs, and now a selection from this extensive catalogue will be available for all music lovers to browse online.

The John Peel Archive features on The Space, a digital arts service showcasing 53 projects, which will be available for 26 weeks from May to October 2012. The site takes you to John Peel’s home studio, where you can explore documentary videos, home movie footage, tracks and collections from the Peel Sessions, a gallery of photos, and clips from radio broadcasts.

The record collection is truly the most impressive part of the site as it recreates the shelves as if you are standing right in front of them, sifting through decades of quality music.

As you mouse over the spine of each record, a pop-up brings you access to more information, including a view of Peel’s own hand-typed index cards, images of the album artwork, and a chance to listen to tracks via Spotify and iTunes, where available.

The John Peel Archive record collection

Week by week the collection will grow from A to Z, with the first 100 albums from each letter revealed. Each new batch will also come with a mini documentary video of a featured artist selected by Peel’s family.

The John Peel Archive record collection

Only the beginning

Writing on the John Peel Radio Blog last week, Tom Barker, director of the John Peel Centre of Creative Arts, expressed hope that the 26-week project is just a start. “Because of the tight timescales and the funding only running until October, what we are doing on The Space is very much only the beginning of what we hope will be an even more exciting project,” he wrote. “In the long term, and with extra funding, we hope to release the entire contents of John’s huge collection.”

The John Peel Centre of Creative Arts know the site will attract Peel fans from far and wide, and they will be releasing never-before-seen material (such as letters to John) exclusively to fans via their various social media accounts.

The John Peel Archive record collection

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.