SCI announces new traveling exhibit to open Oct. 1

SCI announces new traveling exhibit to open Oct. 1

Exhibit provides a must-see, must-do, must-HEAR experience

  • Tuesday August 23, 2016

DES MOINES, IA: Long before the advent of Spotify or Pandora, the musical instinct ran deep. On October 1, the Science Center of Iowa (SCI) invites visitors to expand their understanding of what makes music when Wild Music: Sounds & Songs of Life, a hands-on traveling exhibit, makes its debut in Des Moines.

Through sensory-stimulating activities, visitors will not only hear the music that surrounds them every day, but they’ll see and even feel it, too. They’ll discover that nature is filled with "musicians" that create distinct musical masterpieces to communicate with and relate to one another, and they’ll explore how human music is inspired by the music of other living creatures – from tiny insects to giant whales.

Highlights of the Wild Music exhibit include:

  • Three different "soundscapes" that invite visitors to explore sound and music that come from the ocean, the forest and the city. Visitors will learn to interpret spectrograms, or visual representations, of bird songs, learn what whale cries tell us about the animal’s life cycle, see samples of instruments from around the world, experiment with how sound travels underwater, explore how music influences memory and more.
  • The Jamming Room, a soundproof practice studio where visitors can use pre-recorded audio soundscapes, animal voices, percussion instruments and live vocals to compose their own songs.
  • The Bioacoustic Lab, where visitors can experiment with how the human voice works and how it compares to that of other animals, specifically birds. Here, visitors can explore a model of the human larynx and the bird syrinx, use an electrolarynx to "speak" without using their voices and use a set of vibrating metal reeds to "feel" sound.
  • The Power of Sound and Music Theater, where visitors can sit back, relax and experience sounds from around the world. The seven-minute, sound-driven video demonstrates – both visually and audibly – how animals use sound to identify themselves, communicate and form and nurture social groups.

In conjunction with this traveling exhibit, SCI will premiere a new, interactive dome program, Global Soundscapes: Mission to Record the Earth. Offered as a school lab Monday through Friday and as a 20-minute public program on Saturdays and Sundays, Global Soundscapes explores the emerging field of sound ecology, which is advancing scientists’ knowledge of nature and society.

As part of the Soundscapes Theater Network, SCI will help researchers collect soundscapes around the world and encourage visitors to participate in citizen science by using a mobile app to collect sound in their neighborhoods.


Wild Music is designed to be accessible to all visitors. All of the exhibit’s videos are narrated and captioned, and more than a dozen major components have audio descriptions for vision-impaired visitors. Many components incorporate tactile graphic illustrations, and many have visitor-adjustable volume controls. All areas of the exhibit were built to be accessible for visitors using wheelchairs.

In addition, text in Wild Music is printed in large, highly-readable type and is written in both English, Spanish and, in some cases, Braille.

Visiting Information

Wild Music will be open daily at the Science Center of Iowa from October 1, 2016, through May 29, 2017. The exhibit is included with regular SCI admission ($12 for adults, $8 for seniors and $8 for children 2-12). Discounted admission is available for groups of 10 or more, and schools may visit SCI for just $5 per student September 2016 through February 2017. For a complete list of hours and admission prices, call 515-274-6868 or visit www.sciowa.org.

Wild Music is a production of the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Association of Science-Technology Centers and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Music, with major support from the National Science Foundation and additional support from Harman International, Inc. and the NEC Foundation of America.

About the Science Center of Iowa

The Science Center of Iowa engages and inspires Iowans along their journey of lifelong science learning. The 110,000-sq. ft. facility located in Downtown Des Moines features dynamic experience platforms, large format theaters and daily interactive science demonstrations, including the NAEYC-accredited SCI Preschool. The Science Center of Iowa also provides educational outreach programs across the state of Iowa. For more information, visit www.sciowa.org