In my opinion, one of the most exciting galleries in the new National Museum of Scotland from the point of view of digital interactive exhibits is the Performance and Lives gallery.

Performance and Lives - Cham dancing

This gallery exhibits our collections of masks, costumes for performance and musical instruments. From the start of the development of this gallery, the curators had a strong desire to make use of an archive of material we inherited from the estate of the late Jean Jenkins. She was an ‘ethnomusicologist’ and museum curator who travelled the world collecting audio recordings of traditional music along with notes and photographs.

Performance and Lives

The other thing we wanted to do in this gallery, was allow visitors to get creative themselves. We went through many ideas for an exhibit which could allow visitors to listen to Jean Jenkins recordings, manipulate them, and create their own compositions. However, we soon realised that this was too wide a brief for one exhibit and also that the different elements may appeal to different audiences. So, we divided into two digital exhibits.

World Music Composer

The first, World Music Composer, is a digital composition exhibit. We have provided a range of music samples from all over the world for visitors to explore, listen to, and add to a ‘timeline’ creating a unique composition. Some of these samples are from the Jean Jenkins archive but many are from areas she did not visit and are the musical traditions of peoples featured in other galleries within the museum, for example, the Ainu, the Inuit and Pacific Islanders.Visitors can email their created composition to themselves and access it again from home on the National Museums Scotland website here. If you follow that link to our website you can also try a mini-version of the exhibit yourself!

World Music Composer - example

The second digital exhibit in the gallery, is where we go into more detail about the musical instrument collection at National Museums Scotland, Jean Jenkins and her travels. This is called Musical Journeys, and the photos below give you an indication of the content.

Musical Journeys

Main Menu

Map Page

Example music sample page

Both exhibits were developed with software company Preloaded