The Musical Instrument Museum is wonderful experience that made me want to take up an instrument, any instrument and play. It is one of the best and most unique museums that I have ever been to. I only had a day to spend in Phoenix before I had to turn around and start driving back home to the Plains. Needless to say it was a really long day, but I wanted to see something great so after a little research and seeing what was the best to see in Phoenix I took their advice and went to the Musical Instrument Museum and I am glad that I did. I highly recommend going to this great museum even if you are not a fan of music, it is that good.
I love how this museum is catered to the visitor. What happens is that each person that visits receives a headset that syncs up to each display with a flat screen television set. When I paid for my ticket and was given the headset and put the headphones on nothing was happening. At first I thought that I had gotten a defective pair but that was not the case. I am sure the lady that gave me the headset explained that it works on the second floor however I am not the best listener at times, you can ask Karen about that I am sure she could tell you. Well, as I started looking at the first floor guitars thinking that my headphones would start I looked around to see if anybody else was having problems. Many of the people had the headphones off (ones that listened I am sure) and then there were several like myself and had a confused look on their faces. I finally moved up to the second floor and saw the amazing displays and saw one person standing in front of one tapping their foot. I saw that their headphones were on so I gave it another shot and low and behold they worked if only I would have listened.
What made this museum so fascinating is that it is divided up into five geographical sections with just about every country represented. So, when I stood in front of the Mongolia exhibit the flat-screen panel would turn on showing a person/group playing their traditional instruments. That is neat in itself but for each country they would have the instruments on display that I was hearing in my headset so not only did I get to hear them in action but I also got to see them up-close. Along with the instruments they had several cultural elements on display next to the instruments for each country. To me, it was just as much a cultural museum as it was musical instrument museum which makes sense because culture and music go hand-in-hand.
The Musical Instrument Museum has a collection of over 15,000 musical instruments from nearly 200 countries and several countries have multiple displays. This place has the complete range of music from cultural and tribal to country to rock and roll, it has it all. Besides the galleries where I could hear music on my head set they also had a room where I could play a variety of instruments. I briefly stopped by that room, but I did not personally try to play anything however whenever M gets old enough I know this is one place that Karen and I will have to take her.
Besides the wonderful geographical galleries that they have there are a few other areas worth checking out. The first is their Artist Gallery which has displays on some of the most influential artists not only from the United States but from around the world. In these displays they had several things that the artist played, wore, used, or wrote. It was pretty cool seeing a piano played by John Lennon or guitars used by Carlos Santana. Along with their artist museum they also have a Mechanical Music Gallery which is instruments that play themselves. Including one that is so big that it takes up the whole wall. Finally, what would a musical instrument museum be without a musical theater and they have one of those. It is a small theater that holds concerts. If you are interested make sure you check out their website for more information on who is playing.
The Musical Instrument Museum is one of my favorite museums that I have ever been to, and this is coming from somebody that gave up playing the piano in elementary school because I was too interested in playing sports. This is a new museum having just opened April 2010 and they seem to be still adding new displays so I believe this museum will just get better over the next couple of years. If you are ever in the Phoenix area and looking for a place to spend a few hours then this is the place to go. The museum will probably take at least two hours to go through if not longer so make sure you set aside plenty of time for your visit. It is well worth it.
Musical Instrument Museum -
Located at 4725 East Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, Arizona
Cost as of this posting – Adults 18 to 65 $15.00 Seniors 65 and over $13.00 and children 6 to 17 $10.00
Hours of Operation – Monday through Wednesday and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
For more information visit their website at http://themim.org/