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The Shamaniacs

Stories, art activities, and African drumming set the David Owsley Museum of Art bustling with motion on a very sunny Sunday afternoon for Family FUN Day. Although there was a lot of competition with the beautiful weather outside, many families made it to the museum to take part in our Family Day activities. Throughout the event, the museum pulsed with drumming coming from the Shamaniacs: Drummers of Thunder and Wonder. The Shamaniacs started out with their drum circle in the African gallery, where their African shirts and traditional African drums fit in very well with our collection.The four band members of the Shamaniacs, headed by Steve Robert (, led the drum beats, but brought along many extra drums for children to drum along with. One of the member of the Shamaniacs told a group of children, “If you’ve got a heartbeat, you can keep a beat.” I saw many children hesitantly take a drum from one of the band members, but after a little while they were confidently hitting the drum to the beat of the drum circle. I spoke with one of the members of the Shamaniacs, Steve Lang, who builds some of the drums, during one of their breaks. He said that their purpose is to provide inspirational education to those who take part in their drum circles. I could really see this in that the members handed drums to children and told them that they can do it. Lang also told me that a large amount of their proceeds goes to charities such as Water is Basic and Hope for Liberia, in order to give back to the cultures that they educate about.


Suit of Armor Japan, Edo period

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Docent Barbara reading a story

On the other side of the museum in the Asian Galleries, docent Barbara Alvarez Bohanan read a Japanese story, “The Stonecutter,” which taught the children to be careful what they wish for. After the story the children were told to look around the Asian Gallery and pick one thing to tell the group what it is made out of and what they like about it. One very popular artwork was the Japanese Samurai suit of armor. One boy told the group that it is made out of steel and silk cord and that he liked it because he enjoyed watching Power Rangers Samurai, which the suit of armor reminded him of. There were many questions raised about the suit of armor such as, why would samurais need armor, why did they use silk cord, where did they find the suit of armor, and was this suit of armor ever used. We also paid special attention to the round dents in the front of the suit from bullets that tested the armor’s strength.

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“What do you believe in?” Activity


working on a collage

During Family Day, there wasn’t just looking and learning about art, there was art making too. The BSU Art Education Club had art activities set up in both the Sculpture Court and in the special exhibition gallery. In the Sculpture Court participants could use construction paper, scissors, and crayons to respond to the prompt, “What do you believe in?” Upstairs there were magazines that could be cut apart and used to make collages in response to the Martha Rosler collages displayed in the gallery. The Neuenschwander Ze Carioca activity, led by the BSU Museum Club, was very attractive because of its direct interaction with a work of art and the fun of drawing with chalk on the wall. These activities were related to the current special exhibition, Fractured Narratives, which asks the viewer to think and engage with the content that is presented in the exhibition. There were also a few kid-friendly tours over the Fractured Narratives exhibitions during the event.

After an afternoon filled with fun in the museum all the families went home, hopefully having gained many new experiences with art and museums. Near the end of the event I spoke with a family about their time at Family Day as they were excitedly working on an I Spy activity. The family seemed to have really enjoyed their time spent at the museum. The children told me that their favorite parts were drawing on the wall during the Ze Carioca activity, drumming with the drum circle, and learning in the Chinese gallery.

Be sure to look for other family friendly events in the future. Visitors are welcome to visit the museum any time during our open hours, Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.