Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.


The Scissor Dance

Musical Instrument Museum

While Rob and I were in Arizona for Christmas, my mom took us up to Phoenix to explore the Musical Instrument Museum, devoted to musical instruments and traditions from around the world.

The museum was full of wonderful cultural artifacts — instruments, costumes, masks, artwork and more. The photo above is from a display about the Scissor Dance (danza de las tijeras) from Peru.

Museum visitors are issued iPod-like audio guides at the ticket counter. The devices are location-sensitive, so as you walk up to a display, appropriate music / narration starts to play through your headphones. When you walk out of range, the audio track fades out. It’s a strange / fascinating experience to be walking through a place that’s so full of sound, yet (if you take your headphones off) so very very quiet.

This is still a pretty new museum, and it showed — both in the shiny newness of it and the scope of the exhibits. The world music exhibits were pretty well fleshed-out and definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. The North American / U.S. collection, by contrast, was quite thin and still under construction. (Most obvious omission: hardly anything about jazz, save a “coming soon” sign.)

More photos:

(If you can’t see the slideshow above, you can see the full photo set on Flickr.)