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Flobots Call & Response

On May 2nd, the Flobots offered a participatory Call & Response program at the Museum. This is an event that the Flobots do monthly within the Denver community, but they were curious how it would translate to a museum context.  In much of their work, the Flobots use music as a way to break down communication barriers.  During their residency, they are deeply interested in how to make the museum experience become more of a dialogue and less of a monologue.  They want to understand how visitors can become more curious and inspired to ask questions.  By bringing music into the galleries, they hoped to change perceptions of what can happen in a museum, how people can interact and to bring attention to larger social issues. 

First, the Flobots and community songleaders taught visitors songs for social movements. It wasn't long before the whole room was singing in rounds! The crowd then split up into smaller groups, to sing the songs in locations that were particularly relevant to the music. For example, one group went to the Bridge that connects the Museum's North and Hamilton Buildings and sang songs that commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery. These songs immersed visitors in the sounds from Selma and reinforced their continued relevance today. Another group filed into the North Building's stark concrete stariwell to bring attention to prisoner rights.

Afterwards, all of the groups came back together in the Atrium of the Hamilton Building. Slowly but steadily, the voices from the different groups came together to form one beautiful voice:

Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
God's gonna trouble the water​

After a few rounds, Flobots band member Johnny 5 invited the whole Atrium to sing one final song together:

We are building up a new world
We are building up a new world
We are building up a new world
Builders must be strong

Courage brothers, don't get weary
Courage sisters, don't get weary
Courage people, don't get weary
Though the way be long

Throughout the program, new visitors joined in, finding the music an open invitation to participate.  Other people observed or asked questions.  For a first foray into museum activation, the Flobots program was a little piece of magic. Hearing these words sung throughout the Museum was a powerful experience that visitors are unlikely to forget. The event infused a new life into the galleries and brought visitors together in a way like never before.