WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology is proud to announce the arrival of Giant Xylo Pipes! The Science of Sound – a new interactive exhibit now open in the gallery. The exhibit connects science and art through the hands-on creation of music. Visitors can explore the science of sound by tapping the on open pipes using a variety of tools.
The giant xylophone pipe is a two-octave musical xylophone in the C major key. Each pipe is color coded and labeled with the name of its note. The exhibit includes a variety of single and and multi-armed paddles to play notes and chords. Visitors can use the available sheet music or compose their own songs.
“The science behind the xylo pipes is both auditory and visual, so we’re speaking to a lot of different kinds of learning,” said Education Director Emmy Brockman. “You notice immediately that the pipes are different sizes and that affects how they sound. When you hit the end of the pipe you’re starting a vibration, the speed of the vibration is called the frequency, which determines the pitch. The shorter the pipe, the faster the frequency, the higher the pitch. The longer the pipe, the slower the frequency, the lower the pitch.”
Michael Lindeau, WonderLab Exhibits and Facilities Director, built and designed the Giant Xylo Pipes exhibit. Lindeau, an accomplished musician with a dedicated interest in music theory used both his knowledge of science and music as he measured the tone and frequency of different lengths of pipe for the two octave exhibit. Despite his love for science and music Lindeau’s favorite part of working on this exhibit has been: “Designing it to fit in the elevator.” Exhibit construction in a small museum is tricky. Moving an exhibit from the workshop to its final home in the gallery means maneuvering through quite a few tight squeezes. Before he started building Lindeau had to consider how he would get the exhibit from place to place. He measured all of the different doors as well as the size of the elevator he would have to use to move the the exhibit to its new home on the second floor of the WonderLab. Lindeau had to move the exhibit twice while working on it to accommodate its size.
The Giant Xylo Pipes exhibit is made possible by a long-standing WonderLab advocate, volunteer and board member. The donation was made in honor of several musicians. These artists include Ben Swanson, Chris Swanson, Darius VanArman and the staff of the Secretly Group, an umbrella of world-renowned companies that produce music and provide management and support for various artists.
So far, the Giant Xylo Pipes Exhibit has been a hit. “I love listening to the pipes being played,” said Diane David, WonderLab Volunteer Coordinator.
To follow some of the behind the scenes work on WonderLab’s new giant xylophone pipe exhibit be sure to check out the Xylo Pipes Exhibit web series available only on the WonderLab Science Museum YouTube channel.