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The Anacostia Community Museum’s indoor gallery will be closed Sept. 18 through Oct. 31 as we bring our next exhibition to life. Even though our gallery is closed, join us at any of the dynamic upcoming events planned over the next 6 weeks. More information about our events is available at: We look forward to seeing you soon!

Conga Drum Played by Paul Hawkins

Object Details

20th century
wood, hide, and rope
27 3/4 × 16 13/16 × 16 5/8 in. (70.5 × 42.7 × 42.3 cm)
Many Washingtonians danced to rhythms played on this Haitian conga drum. Hide stretched taut across the drum forms its head, held by ropes wound around pegs that pierce the hide and jut out of the drum’s sides at a 45-degree angle. The cylindrical drum tapers into three increasingly narrow tiers carved at the base. In Haiti, it is known as a boula drum, one of three used in Vodou’s Rada rite, in which practitioners communicate with African ancestors. Used as a conga drum in Washington, DC, it belonged to percussionist, bandleader, and dancer Paul Hawkins, one of the founders of Latin jazz. The lifelong Washingtonian, who was African American, fused bebop and Latin rhythms into a musical style that united people in an era when race, class, and national origin typically segregated the city.
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