Explore the science behind music and musical instruments

Have you ever thought about why a guitar and a banjo sound different, even when they are playing the same note? Or have you wondered how various instruments produce sound? MIM explores the science behind these questions and more in a new exhibit called “How Science Brings Music to Life” in its brand-new STEM Gallery.

Building on the success of the museum’s most popular field trip, multiple displays within the new gallery explore the themes of sound creation, technological innovation, the human ear, hearing safety, and much more. While “How Science Brings Music to Life” will be an important part of guided field trips for students, it will also allow guests of all ages to learn about the science behind some of their favorite instruments and how we as human beings experience sound.

Highlights include slow-motion and Schlieren video footage of musical instrument vibrations, including selections courtesy of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; a whimsical study of the distinctive “voice” or timbre of different instruments; an interactive “Jolene” mannequin that guests can demo to learn more about sound levels and hearing safety; a deconstructed Stratocaster electric guitar showing innovation in this iconic instrument’s construction; and musical instruments from around the world that highlight various means of sound production, including electronic instruments used in digital music creation.

MIM collaborated with experts from 3M, the interactive learning company ansrsource, and the Dangerous Decibels® project to create original content for the gallery. The museum is eager to welcome guests to explore this engaging space and discover music in new and stimulating ways.

“Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects are so important in education today,” says Brian Dredla, MIM’s director of education and public programs. “It’s exciting to offer a peek into the science behind an art form. This can make you love music—or science—even more! MIM is always trying something new and we really hope this gallery will get people asking questions and appreciating music in new ways.”