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Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ

The Musical Instrument Museum: The Museum You Hear

The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) located in North Phoenix has quickly become one of the must-see attractions in the Valley. Robert Ulrich, former CEO of Target Corporation and founder of MIM, was inspired to build the museum after his trip to a musical instrument museum in Brussels, Belgium.

Getting to the MIM is quite easy if you know where you’re going. But for first time visitors, it’s oddly easy to miss the 190,000-square-foot building. Right off the 101 near the Desert Ridge Marketplace, this museum’s modern architecture compliments the desert surroundings.

Upon entering MIM, the quiet stillness of a typical museum makes you feel like you may be in the wrong spot. That is, until the grand piano in the lobby and the over-sized guitars hanging from the ceiling give away that this isn’t an ordinary museum.

And the minute you’re handed the audio headset to guide your journey, you know you’re in the right spot.

Broken up into geographical exhibits, the museum takes you on a tour of instruments from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America, to Africa and more —  but in no particular order. The audio headsets do not lead you, but instead assist your experience at the museum.

As you walk up to instruments and exhibits, the headset immediately switches over to playing music of the exhibit you are facing. Some exhibits include flat-screen televisions that display the way these instruments are played.

But the MIM isn’t all “look but don’t touch.” Heading downstairs, you will find the Experience Gallery that gives guests the opportunity to play some of the most unique and bizarre instruments in the world. Whether I was banging on a 10-foot gong or picking at a European harp, the hands-on gallery was one of the most popular galleries in the museum.

And right next to the Experience Gallery is the other most popular gallery in the museum. The Artist Gallery hosts instruments from famous musicians; whether it’s John Lennon’s “Imagine” piano or Eric Clapton’s guitar “brownie,” the gallery had me in complete awe.

Make sure to bring some extra cash, too! The cafe on the first floor of the museum features meals from nearly every part of the world.

From field trips to tourists to musicians to Arizona residents, the Musical Instrument Museum is an attraction I will continue to recommend to visit while in the city.

For more information about the Musical Instrument Museum, visit themim.org.

Check out our video about the Musical Instrument Museum.

Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale

Experience The Musical Instrument Museum [VIDEO]

Music aficionados and enthusiasts, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is the place for you. From the musical roots of Africa to the current-day music legends, such as John Lennon and Carlos Santana, the Musical Instrument Museum covers everything, from nearly every corner of the world — educating you on the history of musical instruments.

With just your headset, explore different parts of the world, including Africa/Middle East, Asia/Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean, United States/Canada and Europe. As you approach each display, music plays on your headset, and you’re instantly in a different land, experiencing the cultures of the past and present — hearing and witnessing the music in action at wireless “hot spots” looping streamed music.

MIM even educates you on the purpose behind the music in each, respective country. While some used music to connect with nature, help calm sheep and ward off predators, others used it to acquire weapons, for storytelling, ceremonies, religion, to determine and highlight social status, rebellion, create identity and so much more.

You can even create a musical experience for yourself in the Experience Gallery. Strike the marimbas, hit the gong and have fun!

Check out videographer Sterling Grey‘s interpretation of the Musical Instrument Museum:


Upcoming MIM Events:


MIM Musical Interludes, featuring ASU School of Music: ASU African Drum Ensemble

Enjoy drumming an folklore from Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Ghana, and Nigeria.

The event is free with no museum admission required. Seating is limited and offered on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012
10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Chinese New Year Celebration

Celebrate the Chinese New Year at MIM. MIM and the American Chinese Arts & Culture Exchange Association present special performances with traditional Chinese instruments, folk songs and dance, martial arts, original artwork on display, and a craft activity for all ages.

The event is free with museum admission.

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

MIM Musical Interludes, featuring UA School of Music: The Rosewood Marimba Band

The Rosewood Marimba band with perform classic ragtime arrangements of George Hamilton Green, Harry Breuer, and Scott Joplin.

The event is free with no museum admission required.

Monday, February 13, 2012
1 p.m.

Romancing Arizona

This Valentine’s Day, spend your evening with local food, wine, entertainment (by The Sugar Thieves and Savoy Hop Cats in the courtyard) and more at MIM. And Arizona will be celebrating 100 years as a state, so this is an event you don’t want miss.

Tickets are $50 each until Jan. 31, 2012. Tickets after are $60 each, and they will be sold at the door for the same price. Ages 21+.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

For more information, visit themim.org or contact events@theMIM.org.


If You Go: Musical Instrument Museum

4725 E. Mayo Boulevard
Phoenix, AZ 85050
(480) 478-6000