When it comes to quality educative and entertaining destinations for children, Phoenix, Arizona’s Museum of Musical Instruments takes the cake. Seamlessly blending modern technology with antique instruments and modern music under one roof, this museum is one of the most unique experiences you could offer your child – and you’re definitely going to get a kick out of it too!
The Museum of Musical Instruments (MIM) features a cavalcade of music tributes in its general admission. You will find African tribal instruments, Americana and roots music from the United States, pieces from India, and some 200 other countries as well. The showcase of music and instruments goes from tribal music all the way up to America’s rock and roll. With a vast array of exhibits and countries showcased here, you can literally listen to and see an entire world of music in one day.
One of the coolest features the MIM offers is not the instruments themselves, but the way they are exhibited. Within the museum are various hot spot wi-fi locations that offer a continuous loop of music delivered through a wireless headset patrons receive at the entrance. The exhibits allow you to actually hear the instruments you are viewing through the headset. In addition, you’ll find a flat screen television at each exhibit that shows the instruments being played, and how it is done.
In the Orientation Gallery, you are greeted by a wide variety of different countries, cultures of music and styles of instrumentation. It is a huge showcase of the musical diversity to be found on our planet, conveniently housed together in one room. Elsewhere in the museum, countries are separated to allow patrons to view different aspects of a country’s music. For some countries that have a rich tribal background the museum even features music and instruments from the different tribes found in that region.
One of the most anticipated new exhibits MIM is opening is the Elvis Presley tribute. While original plans hoped for an opening in 2012, the museum has announced that this exhibit is now officially open. Elvis Presley – Three Decades of the King is included with general admission, and showcases the internationally famous musician’s songs, instruments that he owned, clothing worn by him, and many other artifacts that belonged to Elvis during his career.
Exhibits aren’t the only thing that MIM has to offer though. They have concerts and special events that run year-round in the museum. Concerts are performed inside the Music Theatre that seats 299 people and offers amazing acoustics. The variety in live performances to see is exceptionally eclectic and features everything from famous country musicians to instrumentals of international guitars. A complete listing of upcoming and scheduled shows is available on their website.
Along with live music concerts the Music Theatre is also the location where the museum hosts their lectures, interactive performances, and even films. Learning about the history of music has never been this accessible, hands-on, and quite simply fun before. Where else can your child see a tribute to Elvis and watch someone demonstrate how to play a tribal instrument from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the same building?
The Museum of Musical Instruments in Phoenix not only seeks to recreate instruments form across the world, but to utilize authentic pieces wherever available. They feature one of the largest collections of true musical pieces in the country, including many of antiquity and tribal origin. It is the coupling of authenticity, visuals and the audio technology that bring their exhibits together to create an experience you won’t find anywhere else in the United States.
MIM is not your average museum. This is a one of a kind technologically advanced journey through the music of the world from past and present. It is a dream realized by its founder and creator Robert J. Ulrich. With its stunning array of display and presentation, I was pleasantly surprised to see that ticket prices are quite affordable, bringing the founder’s dream to full circle and making this museum truly accessible to everyone. It stands as an authentic representation of the unity of humankind through music while highlighting the cultures involved.
This museum is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. General admission provides you with full access to the museum’s galleries and exhibits and gets you a wireless headset for the audio/visual displays that accompany the exhibits. Performances, concerts, lectures, films, or other special events do require an additional ticket but they are easily purchased through their online service or can be bought at the door, and are generally pretty affordable. It is recommended that if you wish to purchase a special event ticket that you do so in advance, as their seating tends to fill up quickly for concerts or events.