‘America to Zanzibar'
New children’s exhibit highlights Muslim culture
The Creative Discovery Museum will be the first stop on the national tour of “America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far,” the new exhibit opening in the children’s museum on Saturday, Feb. 3.
This exhibit features the cultural expressions of Muslim communities around the world through age-appropriate experiences in art, architecture, travel, trade and design. It was developed by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
“At Creative Discovery Museum, we provide experiences that expand a child’s world,” said Henry Schulson, CDM executive director.
“’America to Zanzibar’ will contribute to our goal of fostering global awareness and welcoming visitors of all cultures and backgrounds to the museum. We are delighted to be the first venue outside of New York to host this important and wonderful exhibit,” he adds.
The exhibit is specifically designed for ages 2 to 10, but contains elements that will appeal to all ages. It consists of five major sections.
The Global Marketplace:
This area features stalls from around the world where children can pretend to buy and sell spices from Egypt, ceramics from Turkey or rugs from Morocco. They can weigh their fresh catch at the Zanzibar fish market, smell Indonesian fruits, serve Tajik tea and design outfits inspired by West African tailors in Harlem.
Guests learn about the exchange of culture across continents in this area. Children can climb aboard a replica of a multilevel Indian Ocean dhow (boat) to experiment with navigation techniques, travel to various ports and unload goods from around the world. Below deck is a multisensory exploration of the dhow’s cargo.
Children can also decorate a Pakistani truck, hop in the cab and embark on a pretend trip through the Western Himalayas or climb on top of a life-size camel and journey across the desert in this area.
This area visually transports visitors into a series of magnificent mosques around the world. Panoramic images are projected onto a 21-foot, curved screen that explore the wide range of architectural styles from Asia to Africa and America. Families can also try their skill at drafting their own structures, complete with domes and arches.
In the courtyard, families can explore elements of design, water and geometric patterns that are key to a traditional Muslim courtyard. Children are encouraged to make music with digital instruments.
The American Home:
This area is a contemporary living room filled with objects donated by American Muslims. Guests may explore the variety of American Muslims’ stories through their objects, clothing, art and books.
Several display cases will represent members of Chattanooga’s Muslim community. Visitors can learn to write “My name is…” in 21 languages.
“Most people do not realize the tremendous diversity of Muslim cultures,” said Schulson. “In Chattanooga alone, there are three mosques and the Annoor Academy, a local Islamic school, which is comprised of approximately 80 students representing 40 different nationalities.”
With funding provided by ArtsBuild, Creative Discovery Museum hosted a photography workshop for fourth- through eighth-grade students at Annoor Academy. Students were asked to photograph their environments and the results of their work will be on display in the first-floor Student Art Gallery.
“America to Zanzibar” will remain on display at the CDM through May 13. SPECIAL EVENT SATURDAY
Creative Discovery Museum has four events planned during “America to Zanzibar” that will provide guests with hands-on, interactive experiences.
The first is Saturday, Feb. 3, from noon to 4 p. m. in conjunction with the exhibit’s opening.
During those hours, visitors will be able to sample pastries, foods and teas from Muslim countries, watch folkloric dances, discover how dress varies from country to country and more.
Additionally, museum educators will present a variety of walk-up activities. Children will be able to touch, taste and smell plants and herbs from various Muslim countries. They will also see different types of currency used in Muslim countries.
The remaining events are scheduled March 10, April 7 and May 12 from noon to 4 p. m.
In the Global Marketplace, children can weigh their fresh catch at the Zanzibar fish market, smell Indonesian fruits or design outfits inspired by West African tailors in Harlem.
In The Courtyard, children are encouraged to make music with digital instruments. The Courtyard also displays geometric patterns that are key to traditional Muslim design.