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.