From Zanzibar to Barclay Square and Back

February 1, 2016
Preparing a wall as part of the exhibition
Photo caption

Preparing a wall as part of the exhibition.

America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far explores the diversity of Muslim cultures in the United States and globally.  The 3,500-square-foot exhibition opens at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan on February 13.

The dromedary camel, part of the Trade Routes section of America to Zanzibar
Photo caption

The dromedary camel, part of the Trade Routes section of the America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far exhibition arrives at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Courtesy, Children's Museum of Manhattan

The exhibit features engaging interactive activities.  Highlights include a replica of a multi-level Indian Ocean dhow (boat) that children can board to experiment with navigation techniques; a life size camel that will transport visitors on a journey across the desert; a 21-foot curved screen that will project different architectural styles of mosques; and a courtyard at which children can make music with digital instruments.  America to Zanzibar also features a selection of art and artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of Islamic art.

America to Zanzibar offers a compelling introduction to the great variety of Muslim visual art, architecture, and cultural experiences in the United States and globally,” said NEH Chairman Bro Adams. “Guided by leading humanities scholars, this new exhibit reflects the Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s ongoing commitment to exploring international history and culture, and exemplifies NEH’s support for educational exhibits on world cultures, including the acclaimed Gods, Myths and Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece, which opened in 2007.”

America to Zanzibar is one of several recent NEH-funded projects exploring American immigrant cultures.  Related projects include The Italian Americans, a 2015 PBS film, and Latino Americans:500 Years of History, a nationwide public programming initiative that explores the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos.

In addition to the exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the NEH has funded several museum projects for youth and family audiences, including Play the Past at the Minnesota Historical Society and The Power of Children: Making a Difference at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Funding information

The Children's Museum of Manhattan received two grants for a project on Muslim lives around the world. Social Media Productions, Inc. received a grant for The Italian Americans. GWETA, Inc. and the American Library Association received a total of four grants for a film documentary and public programming on Latino Americans. The Minnesota Historical Society received a grant for a mobile app to expand children's access to humanities content. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis received a grant for an exhibition on the lasting influence of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White.