Drums of the World Museum Exhibit

Photo courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum

The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix has opened a new exhibit titled “Beyond the Beat: Drums of the World,” which takes a look at drums within cultural contexts and shows their roles in ceremonies, celebrations and festivals.

This exhibit uses technology to allow people to see the different drums in context. “If we’re talking about a coming-of-age ceremony in Africa, they will see the dancers in the coming-of-age ceremony,” says Dr. Kathleen Wiens, one of five curators of MIM. “Everyone is given a pair of headsets, and those automatically tune in when you approach an exhibit.”

In addition, MIM created videos that showcase different drum sounds and techniques that visitors can view via touchscreens. “We had guests come and perform for us, and we filmed it,” Wiens says, adding that in-house production creates a unique quality and standard when representing different cultures.

The exhibit features some unique displays, including a 1920’s trap set (pictured) with all the fittings, brushes and sticks and a drum kit from the personal collection of drummer Doug Clifford of Credence Clearwater Revival. A third item is a six-foot communal drum, which includes a projected image to guide people through some call-and-response patterns.

One of the sections of this exhibit depicts the story of the Ottoman Army musicians, whose showmanship and brightly colored matching uniforms laid the foundation for modern-day marching bands and drumlines.

“Beyond the Beat: Drums of the World” will run until June 21, 2015. Wiens says she hopes that everyone who goes through this exhibit is able to “gain a sense of why music is incorporated in daily life and in special occasions around the world.”

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