Jerusalem: Make Some Noise!

Jerusalem Make Some Noise 4


MUSICA @ Bloomfield Science Museum


My inaugural reporting trip for The Jerusalem Foundation saw me visit the Bloomfield Science Museum, a leading cultural and educational institution established by the Foundation in 1992 together with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It attracts over 250,00 visitors each year, uniting Jerusalemites from various religious and ethnic backgrounds through the universal language of science.


As we crossed the threshold into Bloomfield Science Museum, Tal Bar Lev, who heads business relations, emphasized the Museum’s mantra: See, Touch, Learn. “We tell our visitors ‘Please touch.’ [Because] if you don’t touch, you don’t learn, and you miss the whole experience.”


This philosophy has produced a wealth of innovative, interactive exhibits – glass cases and vast blocks of interminably small text having been largely dispensed with. The effect is liberating and enticing for visitors of all ages, and reflects the museum’s subscription to the MAKER movement, which encourages creativity via individual experimentation and “thinking with your hands.” With this in mind, we turn to a recently-opened guest exhibition, MUSICA.


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MUSICA is a touring ‘mobile music museum’ designed and created by Michael Bradke, a German musician, artist, educator and builder. His installations have delighted international audiences in countries as diverse as Morocco, Indonesia, Hungary, Canada and Taiwan. Bradke’s work is at once installation art and percussive ensemble, fusing his knowledge of art, science, music and technology to create unique instruments from ‘found’ materials. In the museum’s Wohl Plaza you’ll find the first exhibit, Metallophone, which sees variously-sized saucepans, tiles, hub-caps and trash-can lids artfully suspended within a spherical metal framework.. Bradke seeks to familiarize visitors with the fundamentals of music – rhythm, pitch, the intervals between notes – and, presented with the prospect of causing a (melodic) commotion, few can resist.


The interaction isn’t solely with the exhibit however. “You can do it [make music] by yourself, or you can join forces with others” Tal says, as children sound metallic chimes, symbols and metal sheets simultaneously. This attitude is also borne of the museum’s MAKER ethos, which aims to foster cooperation between visitors, and by extension unite people of varying ages, ethnicities and nationalities. As I tapped an (ostensibly) conventional wooden xylophone in another part of the exhibition, a little boy became my accompaniment, and the language barrier became irrelevant.


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This room is an exercise in deception, albeit delightful deception. On stepping up to the mic, the xylophone or the ‘drums,’ you slip on some headphones and your preconceptions are blasted with synths, whistles and bursts of song. Bradke here celebrates the bountiful possibilities that technology has presented for music, and we are invited to celebrate with him, mixing dance tunes on a DJ deck. I don’t think I’m ready to ‘scratch and spin’ on the Jerusalem music scene just yet, however. Outside lay the Orchestra of Giants, a sprawling ‘musical playground’ designed to provide an introduction to the physics of sound.


Tal tells me that the Museum is widely, but mistakenly, regarded solely as a children’s attraction. She’s right; people of all ages take to the exhibits immediately. And they certainly don’t lack intellectual clout, being grounded in complex scientific, and even philosophical ideas. This Museum is undoubtedly for society in all its entirety.


Talia Samuelson