MIMeography . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck  

MIM ext

from mim.org

If you are ever in the Phoenix, Arizona area, I recommend you spend a few hours at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). This world-class cultural center will delight your senses. I’ve gone five times, and I look forward to going again. The MIM was founded by Robert J. Ulrich, former CEO and chairman emeritus of Target Corporation.

The Building

Inlaid marble floor at the foot of a circular staircase at the MIM

Inlaid marble floor at the foot of a circular staircase at the MIM

The MIM opened in April, 2010. Although the building is relatively new, its organic style makes it seem like it’s been there forever. That was intentional. Architect Rich Varda designed it to evoke the topography of the Southwest. Indian sandstone is the primary element on the building’s façade. Patterns on the floors, walls, and ceilings suggest the geological striations of the Arizona landscape. The museum encompasses 200,000 square feet on two floors.MIM 007

The Collection

The MIM has more than 15,000 musical instruments and artifacts, approximately six thousand of which are displayed at a time and includes specimens from two hundred countries and territories around the world. The exhibits are arranged by country and continent. Many of the instruments are works of art as well. Did you know that every region of the world has its own unique version of bagpipe?

from mim.org

from mim.org

Guests to the museum are issued headphones with compact receivers. An audio guide installed on the device plays the sounds of instruments at each exhibit. Guests are not required to follow any particular route through the museum or maintain a pre-ordained pace. Hidden identifiers installed at the exhibits cue the audio guides automatically to exactly the right sound track. Totally high-tech. Many exhibits also include video monitors showing instruments being played by native musicians, or performers dancing, or scenes from Chinese opera, or other music-related topics.MIM harpsichord

The Artist Gallery

One room on the first floor is devoted to instruments belonging to famous musicians. Just a few items on loan are the piano John Lennon wrote Imagine on; guitars from Johnny Cash, Carlos Santana, Toby Keith and others; ukuleles from Jake Shimabukuro; costumes and guitars belonging to Elvis Presley; a cello from Pablo Casals, Joshua Bell’s first violin, and a ukelele, 6-string banjo, piano, and gown all belonging to Taylor Swift.

The Experience GalleryMIM 034

One of the favorite exhibits for children (and adults) of all ages is the Experience Gallery, where guests can try out drums, xylophones, harps, guitars, and even a huge gong.

Museum Shop

Allow yourself enough time to browse the store. It’s like another wing of the museum. It usually takes me 45 minutes to satisfy my curiosity about the instruments, books, and crafts from all over the world that are available for sale.

MIM 112Café Allegro

Have lunch (11:00 to 2:00) at the MIM. The Café is committed to using fresh, locally grown ingredients. They serve a variety of entrees including global cuisine, local and regional dishes, vegetarian and vegan options, and fresh-made soups and salads. I ate my very first sweet potato fries at the MIM. They were so tasty, and such a generous portion I had to share them with my companion. Now, the menu constantly changes, so please don’t be disappointed if they don’t have fries when you’re there.

The Music TheaterMIM 057

The MIM’s intimate performance venue seats only 300. Because of optimal acoustics, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. It hosts 200 concerts a year, many of them by ethnic artists. I had the pleasure of hearing Makana, a Hawaiian slack-key guitarist, play there a couple of years ago. Check out up-coming concerts on the website. They often embed a Youtube video so that you can hear what the artist sounds like.

The Musical Instrument Museum is located at 4725 E Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix AZ 85050 (near the Tatum Blvd exit off the Loop 101). Hours are 9 am-5 pm almost every day. General admission is $20, so plan to spend a few hours. I promise you won’t be bored. For more details, visit their website at mim.org.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.
This entry was posted in Museums, Music, Phoenix AZ and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to MIMeography . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck  

  1. Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

    Reblogged this on ARHtistic License and commented:

    This piece was first posted on Doing Life Together. On Saturday, I’ll post a slideshow of photographs I’ve taken at the MIM.


  2. Pingback: MIM Slideshow | ARHtistic License

  3. Pingback: Video of the Week #21 | ARHtistic License

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