By Lara Becker
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Smithsonian Magazine’s “Year of Music” found itself inside the walls Roscoe West Hall for its third annual Museum Day on Saturday, Sept. 21.
After visitors made their way to the second floor, they were greeted by an audio-visualized demonstration, crafts for kids and tours of “In the Groove: A Century of Sound,” which were all centered at the Sarnoff Collection’s plethora of vintage radio-communication instruments.
“It’s a big national celebration. The idea is to bring the ideals of the Smithsonian to other museums across the country. A lot of people participate,” said Sarnoff curator Florencia Pierri.
In celebrating, participating museums do their part to make the day free in the spirit of education for all.
Although the Sarnoff Collection is always free, Pierri mentioned that people’s participation in Museum Day is a vehicle to showcase some of the world’s finest artifacts.
Every year for Museum Day, the Smithsonian establishes a different theme for the festivities. This year, the “Year of Music” honors sound in museums across the country through auditory achievements of all kinds.
Senior art education major Shayla Nolan was the first to greet guests on their way into the exhibits and activities.
“I want to go to grad school for museum education, so I got hired here as a student worker, and then I was also hired as a conservation assistant,” Nolan said.
Nolan emphasized the importance of Museum Day and the Sarnoff Collection in general as a way for people literally to walk through history. She enjoys learning and being able to pass on the knowledge to others about important artifacts such as wax cylinders, video discs and early televisions.
“We also have a video game day, where people can play vintage video games that were developed even before Atari,” Nolan said.
In the lobby of the second floor, Kenny Lepping, a senior interactive multimedia major, set up shop to demonstrate a visual representation of sound with a drum kit, computer synthesizers and two flat screen televisions.
Lepping worked with his professor and advisor in the IMM department, Teresa Nakra, to organize this project as an independent study in music technology.
“I’ve been a drummer for a while—almost 10 years, so I started making music visualizers and using music production software to visualize the sound,” Lepping said.
As he explained, Lepping displayed the moving sound waves as they went from the drumstick through the computer and moved pixels on the screen. What ensued were chaotic colors and shapes that responded to each sound.
Lepping created every step of the project himself with the help of synthesizers.
“I use different computer programs to connect the video and audio,” he said.
Inside the Sarnoff Collection for Museum Day, Pierri gave tours of their featured exhibit, “In the Groove: A Century of Sound,” where visitors can walk through music and sound evolution.
“We have our guided tour of our sound exhibit open to the public — ‘In the Groove: A Century of Sound’ — which was perfect for this year because it lined up exactly with the Smithsonian’s theme,” Pierri said.
Referring to the multitude of activities in which guests could participate, Pierri also suggested the sound-related activities in the lobby.
“Kids can learn how to make their own speakers, and they can make a simple musical instrument to learn how to test pitches,” she said.
Reflecting on another successful Museum Day, participants, students and visitors were able to see a different side of technology that started it all.
“We’re going from the very start to the peak of everything we have — which is right now,” Nolan said.