When I was about three years old, my dad asked me if I wanted to take dance lessons.
“No,” I said in a squeaky three-year-old voice.
“How about piano lessons?”
“Guitar? Gymnastics? Football?”
I looked up from a book I was reading and said matter-of-factly: “I just want to read.”
And so I did just that. I read. And I haven’t stopped since. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it, too. But, there’s still that gnawing feeling that I should’ve taken up my dad’s offer to dance or to play the piano.
I might have been more musically-inclined than I am now (read: I’d actually have some rhythm). I might have become so good at playing the piano that I became a little famous. I might have been forever immortalized in a museum because of my musical prowess. I might have–maybe, just maybe–been the next Mozart.
Haus der Musik
So, that last one might never happen. There’s only one Mozart. But, Frank and I got to learn about him as well as Beethoven and other famous Austrian composers at the Haus Der Musik in Vienna. Yeah, it’s a museum. But, it’s totally awesome and probably one of our favorite museums to date. We’re nuts for the wonders of museums–especially when they’re interactive. We’ve even blogged in the past how museums are so important for learning culture. I’m certainly glad that Haus Der Musik was the first place we visited in Vienna, because it enhanced our understanding on the importance of music in Austria and the importance of the country’s musical legacy. It made the rest of our experiences in Vienna, like the Music Film Festival and visiting the Opera House much more enriching.
The museum covers more than just the lives of various Austrian composers. While their lives were varied and interesting, the museum also taught us about the science of sound and the art of composing music. We learned science, people. Science. There were many exhibits in the museum, enough to keep us busy for hours. But, here’s a handful that were super educational and fun.
The Womb Experience, I Think I’m Deaf and the Voice
At the Haus der Muzik, we learned about the science of sound. Like, how pitch travels through air and how humans detect wavelengths of sound. Part of that experience is learning how the human ear hears sound. So we tested our hearing, and by golly, I think I’m a little deaf in my left ear (Thanks, Haus der Musik, now I don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get my hearing tested in the States…a little health insurance joke there).
The museum also has a room that is a little like a simulated womb. It’s actually a dark room with a couple of benches and a lit half-sphere in the middle of the floor. We sat and listened to the gentle vibrations of being a baby in a womb. You know how people say births are a miracle? Well, they haven’t sat in a womb. It’s still not a miracle to sit in a womb, but it’s very interesting and surprisingly soothing.
Then there’s the Sea of Voices, where we could play the sounds of different voices. The room was completely dark with the exception of the lit-up mouths and when we touched them, we could make them sing.“Oh” and “oooooh” is pretty close to what they sounded like.
Playing Mozart and the Sounds of Turkey
As previously mentioned, part of the museum is dedicated to famous Austrian composers. Then there’s another part where we composed our own sheet music, just like Mozart! See this right here? That’s right, Mozart thinks Ling is Awesöme.Awesome, indeed.
In another room, there were a set of showerhead-style listening devices. Each one had a different sound. There were sounds from all over the world, like: sounds of the woods, sounds from a car, sounds from Broadway, sounds from New York, sounds from Istanbul and sounds from Tokyo. It’s fascinating to hear that cities have their own sound and that makes them incredibly unique.Hearing the sounds of the world.
Thinking back to when I was a kid and I should have taken up my dad’s offer to play the piano, I could have had my own piano concerts. But, all is not lost. We got to make our concert at the museum. Frank and I took turns standing in front of an interactive screen and composed some songs. It even came with a small audience seating area. But, folks, I just don’t think I’m cut out for music. You know it’s bad when your husband gets up and walks out of the audience. You know it’s really bad when you’re playing the part of Maestro at the conductor exhibit and your symphony gets really irritated with your conducting.
Guess I’ll just stick to reading.Making ears bleed… I mean, making music.
So, you see, that’s why Haus der Musik is a really awesome museum and totally worth a visit.
Share your favorite museum!