Explore music of Northern China and the Beijing Opera

“China: North” and “China: Beijing Opera,” two of the seven displays in MIM’s Asia Gallery relating to the music of China, were recently upgraded.

The newly redesigned “China: North” display features a broad variety of instruments, such as reed pipes, mouth organs, drums, gongs, and cymbals, from China’s northeastern provinces. One of the instruments highlighted is an antique tanggu (double-headed barrel drum), with ornate lion ornamentation, from the outstanding drum collection of the late Dr. Joseph H. Howard. Other featured instruments include a chuida fangsheng (mouth organ), made by the famous Wu family workshop in Beijing, and a lingbo (side-blown flute), which was made, played, and donated to MIM by a founding member of the renowned Inner Mongolian ensemble AnDa Union.

Beijing Opera, also commonly known as Peking Opera, is China’s most sophisticated opera style. MIM’s “China: Beijing Opera” display draws guests’ attention to the unsung heroes of opera: the orchestra that accompanies each performance from offstage. The new exhibit design features antique instruments from MIM’s rich permanent collection, including a rare and elegant cloud-shaped yueqin (also known as a “moon guitar”), an erhu crowned with an upside-down bat, and a sheng (mouth organ) whose bamboo pipes resemble the wings of the mythical phoenix bird.

MIM guests will soon have the opportunity to discover so much more about Chinese music and culture with the opening of a new special exhibition on November 10. Presented in close collaboration with China’s prestigious Henan Museum, this exhibition will showcase an exclusive selection of treasures of Chinese music archaeology never before seen in the United States. Stay tuned for more information as fall approaches.