‘Amer­ica to Zanz­ibar'

New chil­dren’s ex­hibit high­lights Mus­lim cul­ture

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - SPOTLIGHT - STAFF RE­PORT

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.

Trade Routes:

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.

The Court­yard:

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.


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