Musical Instrument Museum

MIM visitors experiencing the Asia/Oceania gallery.

Photos courtesy of MIM

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has been attracting music history connoisseurs, instrument enthusiasts and casual music listeners both nationally and internationally for more than a year.

Since opening to the public in April 2010, MIM has welcomed more than 270,000 guests.

"Our attendance continues to grow, exceeding our expectations," said Chris Bell, chief development officer at MIM.

The two-story museum is positioned on a 20-acre site and houses galleries of instruments from around the world, as well as an interactive room where visitors get the reward of being able to tinker, drum and pluck a variety of instruments located in the galleries.

"The Musical Instrument Museum is the world's first truly global musical instrument museum," Bell said. "Guests at MIM are engaged and immersed in the sounds and sights of the instruments being played in their cultural context through the use of state-of-the-art audio and video technology."

Each gallery showcases instruments from that region, significant items relating to cultural traditions, tablets posted with historical facts and video segments of performers that one can watch and listen to with a set of headphones that are passed out with each ticket purchased.

The inventory in the museum is extensive, consisting of nearly 5,000 instruments.

"Musical instruments and artifacts have been acquired from over 200 countries and territories from around the world," Bell said.

Though the museum offers a complete and wide variety of galleries, creating a unique experience for each visitor, there are favorites of MIM patrons.

Some of the most popular exhibits include the piano on which John Lennon composed, "Imagine," Eric Clapton's " Brownie" guitar and instruments from other renowned musicians such as Carlos Santana, George Benson and Paul Simon, Bell said.

"The Africa exhibit is huge and people seem to really enjoy that gallery," a customer service representative said.

There is also a music manufacturer's exhibit that consists of Steinway, C.F. Martin and Arizona's own Fender Guitars.

The MIM founders and team felt Phoenix would be an ideal location for the museum.

The greater Phoenix area has a "vibrant and culturally diverse population," Bell said, adding that it also makes up one of the largest metropolitan regions in the U.S.

"Its resorts attract many conventions and holiday travelers who seek world-class attractions such as MIM," he said. "Drawn by the Grand Canyon and other natural wonders of the Southwest, many international visitors travel through the user-friendly Phoenix airport."

The MIM also houses a music theater that seats 299 people and features music and musicians from all parts of the world, Bell added.

There are new events and artists being scheduled all the time and the museum is open seven days a week for visitors to explore the museum by themselves or through a group tour.

Whether uninitiated or knowledgeable, guests can experience the rich diversity of the world's music and musical instruments, Bell said.

"Like music itself, MIM appeals to people of all ethnicities, ages and nationalities," Bell said. "It is a one-of-a-kind experience - the most extraordinary museum you'll ever hear."

Taylor Brooks is a student at The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.

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