The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)
Arizona abounds with museums of its history, including its Native American traditions. Now, an incredible, unique establishment, the Musical Instrument Museum, or MIM, is a Phoenix museum of world history of a host of musical instruments.
Robert J. Ulrich, the retired CEO of Target, founded the museum with $10 million, and it opened in 2010. Total costs to date to complete and stock the museum have totaled about $250 million, all from private contributors.
MIM features musical instruments from around the world. Different rooms in the museum showcase instruments from all regions of the United States, and, country by country, from Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, etc. Headphones provided to visitors play the music of the instruments being observed.
The building has about 200,000 square feet of space and holds approximately 15,000 instruments. About 5,000 instruments are currently displayed.
The closest museum parallel to MIM is located in Brussels, Belgium. However, it does not feature nearly the number of countries found in MIM. The Phoenix museum’s focus is to stress the technology underlying all its instruments. The two-year-old organization is now affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.
Guests enjoy what amounts to a close encounter with the instruments themselves. These are enhanced by what MIM refers to as “state of the art audio and video that bring to life the sounds and sights of these instruments.”
There are two floors to the museum, ground level and upper level. Each section is dynamic, in the sense that expansions and improvements are constantly being made.
On the ground level, galleries are as follows:
- Artist Gallery—features instruments, footage of video concerts, photographs, outfits actually used in performances, and other items associated with world-renowned musicians and composers.
- Experience Gallery—Allows guests to play, hands-on, many types of instruments shown elsewhere in MIM.
- Mechanical Music Gallery—Features instruments programmed to play on their own.
- Target Gallery—Displays various traveling exhibitions.
- Conservation Laboratory—Guests can observe through well-lighted windows as skilled technicians restore and preserve valuable instruments.
Also, the MIM Music Theater is an intimate setting for live music performances. Its seating is spacious, with exceptional acoustics. The theater’s schedule includes concerts, films, and various educational activities.
The upper level of MIM presents instruments by almost all regions of the world. Audio and video recordings of the instruments are available for guests, as they are played in respective cultural surroundings.
In the U.S. and Canada gallery, various geographical sections are highlighted, such as New Orleans jazz, Appalachian bluegrass, Hawaiian ukulele, and a host of others.
Europe’s gallery is separated, country by country, ranging from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, Scandinavian countries, Balkan countries, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Russia, and others.
Asia is divided into the Middle East, Central Asia, India, China, Southeast Asia, and others.
Africa, of course, features a wide variety of countries, ranging from Egypt to South Africa.
The Oceania gallery includes Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Polynesia, and others.
In the Latin America gallery, the variety of instruments and sounds is truly mind-boggling. Countries include Mexico, each Central American nation, each South American nation, especially Brazil and Argentina, and, of course, the rich variety of the Caribbean islands.
So many dances beloved in the U.S., samba, mambo, tango, and others, originated in Latin America.
In addition, MIM features special displays of certain American manufacturers, such as Steinway and Sons pianos, C.F. Martin and Co. guitars, and others.
There is nothing quite like MIM. With its incredible variety of musical instruments, the museum provides great enjoyment, education, and value to everyone who attends.
Even the café at the MIM is worth mentioning. Its menu stresses organic and homegrown menu items. Executive chef Edward Farrow strives for food grown within 150 miles of Phoenix.
Mon., Tue., Wed., and Sat.: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Thu. and Fri.: 9:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Sun.: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
MIM is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Adults 18–64: $15.00
Seniors 65+: $13.00
Youths 6–17: $10.00
Children 5 and under: Free
Prices and hours are subject to change.
4725 E. Mayo Boulevard
Phoenix, AZ 85050