Creative Discovery Museum First To Host “America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near And Far” Traveling Exhibit

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Creative Discovery Museum will be the first stop on a national tour of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan's America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far, which showcases the cultural expressions of various Muslim communities around the world through age-appropriate experiences with art, architecture, travel, trade, design and more.

Following its run in Manhattan, where officials said it has been seen by more than half a million visitors, making it one of CMOM’s most popular exhibits ever, the exhibit will be on display at Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga Feb. 3 through May 13.

“At Creative Discovery Museum, we provide experiences that expand a child’s world,” said Henry Schulson, Creative Discovery Museum’s 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.”

The exhibit is specifically designed for ages two-10, but contains elements that will appeal to all ages. The exhibit consists of five major sections: a Global Marketplace, a Trade Routes area, an Architecture area, a Courtyard and an American Home area.

The Global Marketplace features stalls from around the world brimming with sounds, smells and goods, where children can pretend to buy and sell spices from Egypt, ceramics from Turkey and rugs from Morocco. They can also 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 and centuries in the Trade Routes area. Children can climb aboard a replica of a multi-level Indian Ocean dhow (boat) and experiment with navigation techniques, travel to various ports, learn to bargain and unload goods from around the world. Below deck, they can experience a multi-sensory exploration of the dhow’s cargo. Children can also decorate a Pakistani truck, then hop in the cab and embark on a pretend trip through the Western Himalayas. They can also climb on top of a life-size camel and journey across the desert.

The Architecture area virtually transports visitors into a series of magnificent mosques from around the world. Breathtaking panoramic images are projected onto a 21-foot curved screen and explore the wide range of architectural styles from Asia to Africa and America. Families can also try their hand at drafting their own structures, complete with domes and arches, while gaining insight into Muslim architectural traditions.

In the Courtyard families can explore key elements of design, water and geometric patterns that are central to a traditional Muslim courtyard. Children are also encouraged to make music with digital instruments.

The American Home area is a contemporary living room filled with objects donated by American Muslims. Guests explore the wide variety of American Muslims’ stories through their unique objects, clothing, art and books. Several display cases will represent members of Chattanooga’s local Muslim community. Guests can also learn to write “My name is…” in 21 languages.

“Most people do not realize the tremendous diversity of Muslim cultures,” said Mr. Schulson. “In Chattanooga alone, there are three mosques and the Annoor Academy, a local Islamic school, 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, Chattanooga’s Islamic school. Students were asked to photograph their environments and the results of their work will be on display in the first floor Student Art Gallery.  

The Museum has planned four events throughout the exhibit’s stay that will provide guests with hands-on, interactive experiences. The events will take place from noon-4 p.m. on Feb. 3, March 10, April 7 and May 12. During these events, guests will be able to sample pastries, foods and teas from Muslim countries, watch folkloric dance performances, discover how dress varies from country to country and more. In addition, Museum educators will present a variety of walk up activities on a regular basis. Guests will be able to touch, taste and smell plants and herbs from various Muslim countries. Guests will also explore the different types of currency used in countries throughout the Muslim world.

Funding to create this exhibition was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, MetLife Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Violet Jabara Charitable Trust, El-Hibri Foundation, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, National Endowment for the Arts, Maison de l’Artisan in Morocco, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s Board of Directors and scores of individuals.

Local sponsorship for America to Zanzibar is provided by the Lyndhurst Foundation.

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