Wide view of colorful mural and ancient objects in a glass case

Rhythm & Ritual: Music of the Ancient Americas

In partnership with Museo de las Americas

The Denver Art Museum partnered with Museo de las Americas to feature artworks from our art of the ancient Americas collection in an exhibition at Museo. Rhythm & Ritual: Music of the Ancient Americas featured about 80 instruments dating from 1000 BCE to 1530 CE.

Visitors explored the music of the Olmec, Andean, and Maya peoples and learned how they used music in everyday life and ceremonies. Rhythm & Ritual celebrated the life history of these instruments and helped us have a better understanding of the lived experiences of ancient people while simultaneously creating a connection to culture and music that endures today.

Jared Katz smiling inside the Rhythm & Ritual exhibition

Hear the Ancient Instruments and Go Behind the Scenes

The exhibition was curated by Jared Katz, the DAM's Mayer Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow for Art of the Ancient Americas. As part of his scholarship (guided by the conservation department), Katz played some of the instruments and recorded the sound in a series of videos. Hear what these instruments sounded like and learn what some of the exhibition's collaborating partners had to say by browsing the DAM's exhibition playlist on YouTube.

3 ancient musical instruments

Unknown Maya Artist, Jaguar-costumed Figurine Flute with Blowgun, 300-600 C.E. Ceramic; 6.5 in (16.51 cm). Denver Art Museum: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Strauss, 1984.521. Unknown Costa Rian Artist (Atlantic Watershed Region), Decorated Ocarina, 1000-1500 C.E. Ceramic; 2.62 x 2.5 in. (6.67 x 6.35 cm). Denver Art Museum: Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 1993.887. Unknown Chiriqui Artist, Drum with Painted Geometric and Facial Imagery, 900-1520 C.E. Ceramic; 13 x 5.5 in (33.02 x 13.97 cm). Denver Art Museum: Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 1995.394.

Art of the the Ancient Americas Collection

Rhythm & Ritual: Music of the Ancient Americas featured about 80 instruments from the DAM's Art of the Ancient Americas collection.

This exhibition is co-organized by Museo de las Americas and the Denver Art Museum.