The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) has created a truly magical setting, where the amazing influence, charm, and gifts of music can be experienced through state-of-the-art sight and sound.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I am a music enthusiast, and I wholeheartedly agree with the Miles Davis quote, “Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is.” So when I learned that the MIM had opened its doors in Phoenix, Arizona I knew I had to plan a trip, alone.
After experiencing the MIM, one thing—out of many—that stands out in my mind is its enormous size. At 190,000 square feet, this gorgeous museum is not one that you can quickly get through. I was at the MIM for 4 ½ hours, and by the time I was nearing the end of the galleries I found myself rushing through them from sheer exhaustion. I was so tired that I decided to skip the Experience Gallery, where guests can play many of the instruments that are showcased throughout the museum.
With that said, if you visit the MIM, I recommend that you wear very comfortable shoes and plan on taking a break between the upper and lower levels. I arrived at the museum after lunchtime so I did not have time to take a break. The MIM Coffee Shop and Café is the perfect place to sit down and relax for a few minutes, and you can even enjoy a glass of wine. If you’re taking children and not sure you’ll be able to get through the museum in its entirety, you may want to view the museum layout and decide which galleries you think you-all may enjoy the most and start with those.
In addition to the galleries and café, there is also the MIM Museum Store and MIM Music Theatre—an intimate 299-seat performance venue, where concerts, educational activities, family programs, films, and lectures take place throughout the year. Here is a listing of MIM Concerts through 04.30.11. The lineup is so impressive it’s dizzying.
When you purchase your ticket into the museum you’ll be provided with a state-of-the-art wireless headset that automatically engages at each display throughout the museum. In addition to being able to hear the instruments that are on display, you’ll also be treated to videos of the instruments being played in their cultural context. From a Burkina Faso xylophone, amplified by gourds and equipped with buzzing devices made of spider egg casings, to an Algerian frame daf drum, similar to a tambourine in construction, MIM’s 10,000+ collection of instruments from around the globe is truly a treat for a musician’s or music lover’s eyes and ears.
I started on the upper level, where the Geo-Galleries and Special Displays are located. The Geo-Galleries showcase instruments from around the world, and the Special Displays showcase iconic American manufacturers, such as Fender Musical Instruments and Steinway & Sons.
I’d be lying if I said I did not dance while exploring the MIM, especially while I was in the Africa section of the Geo-Galleries. As soon as the music started playing I was immediately transported back in time. For five years I danced with a Phoenix-based dance and music performing group called Adzido, under the teaching of Cornelius Kweku Ganyo, a Ghanaian master drummer and dancer. While I was listening to the music and watching the videos showcasing the instruments from Benin, Ghana, and Togo, I could hear Uncle C. K., as he was affectionately known, sharing stories about the traditional dances, instruments, and songs from West Africa. Although Uncle C.K. is no longer living he was definitely with me at the MIM that day.
After talking to several friendly and helpful MIM employees, I learned that guests do indeed engage in dancing and singing, and I was told that some guests are not shy at all with getting their ‘groove on.’ The way I see it, if you’re a fan of music, how can you not dance?
The lower level MIM galleries include The Artist Gallery, The Experience Gallery, The Mechanical Music Gallery (instruments designed to play on their own), The Target Gallery (temporary and touring exhibitions), and The Conservation Lab (a conservation laboratory for musical instruments).
While I was exploring the Geo-Galleries and listening to incredibly beautiful music from around the world, the Olympic Games kept popping into my mind, especially the opening ceremonies when all the athletes from around the world walk into the Olympic Stadium. The MIM is like the Olympics of music, where every country is represented with unique instruments and music deeply rooted in culture and tradition.
Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)
4725 E. Mayo Boulevard
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Adults (18-64) $15
Seniors (65+) $13
Youths (ages 6-17) $10
Children (under age 6) Free
Museum admission and concert tickets sold separately.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday 9am-5pm
Thursday and Friday 9am-9pm
Last admittance: One hour before closing time.
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Hours are subject to change.