|Since opening its doors in August 1992, the Percussive Arts Museum has become one of the most extensive and important collections of percussion instruments in the world today. The hands-on exhibits and unique displays of rare and beautiful percussion instruments from around the world offer something of interest for everyone. |
The Percussive Arts Museum is part of the 13,000-square-foot Percussive Arts Society (PAS) international headquarters. Funding for the facility came from matching grants from the McMahon Foundation, with financial assistance and instrument donations provided by PAS members around the world.
For its first two decades, the PAS office was located primarily in Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1981, the society’s success and growth brought about the need to hire a staff to handle the society's day-to-day operations. So PAS rented office space in Urbana, Illinois, where then vice-president Tom Siwe was a teacher at the University of Illinois. In 1989, the society was informed that its office would no longer be available to rent. PAS President John Beck asked members if they knew of any charitable foundations that might be interested in helping finance a permanent headquarters for the society.
PAS board member Dr. James Lambert, a professor at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, told Beck that the McMahon Foundation had given money to support a number of arts projects in Lawton.
Incorporated in 1940 by Eugene McMahon and his mother, Louise, the McMahon Foundation was established to "promote the well-being of mankind" in Comanche County, Oklahoma, where Lawton is located. According to Dr. Charles Graybill, President of the Board of Trustees of The McMahon Foundation, "Nearly all of their money came from oil in east Texas. Eugene died in 1945 and Louise died in 1966. There are no heirs, so the foundation, which is managed by seven trustees, owns all the oil rights and we receive income from those properties and from investments."
The McMahon Foundation was very receptive to the idea of helping PAS establish a permanent headquarters in Lawton. Graybill suggested that the proposal would be especially attractive to foundation trustees if it included something that would benefit the cultural life of Lawton, such as a museum.
In January 1990, PAS sent a letter to the McMahon Foundation requesting a financial grant to assist in the construction of a headquarters and percussion museum in Lawton. Within a month, the foundation unanimously approved a grant. The City Council of Lawton was also generous, agreeing to lease the society a tract of land in Elmer Thomas Park for $1 per year for 99 years. The land is adjacent to McMahon Memorial Auditorium and to the Museum of the Great Plains, another McMahon Foundation-supported facility.
The Percussive Arts Society International Headquarters and Museum officially opened on August 8, 1992. When the structure was completed, the museum took up 1,600 square feet of the building's total 5,000 square feet. Within its first two years the museum had welcomed visitors from 34 states as well as from Costa Rica, Malaysia, England, Germany, Canada, France and Australia.
Instrument donations to the museum quickly used up all available display space and with support of the McMahon Foundation an addition was constructed, adding another 4,000 square feet to the museum. The expanded museum reopened in August 1995. Another addition to the building was completed in 2001 completing the current facility.
The Percussive Arts Society moved its administrative offices to Indianapolis, Indiana in April 2007. The move allowed the Percussive Arts Society to have its administrative offices, annual convention and museum in the same city. At PASIC (November 2009,) The Percussive Arts Museum reopened under the new name of Rhythm! Discovery Center.