It’s Tony Bennett’s favorite museum in the world, and Carlos Santana says he’s inspired and overwhelmed by it.

It’s the Musical Instrument Museum, and it’s not far from the East Valley, just off the Loop 101 in Phoenix.

The MIM, as it’s known, opened last year amid considerable buzz (stories appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times), and it just got another nod: The museum was accepted this week as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution — pretty much the be-all-and-end-all of museums in America, if you hadn’t noticed.

“In its first year, the Musical Instrument Museum has already established itself as a world-class institution,” said director of Smithsonian affiliations Harold A. Closter in announcing the partnership.

If you haven’t yet seen for yourself, the MIM showcases instruments from about 200 countries and territories around the world. Visitors are given wireless headsets to wear throughout the facility and can hear each instrument being played as they approach the displays.

MIM’s Music Theater also hosts concerts, such as Saturday’s “A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald” and an April 29 show with Jordin Sparks. The Fitzgerald concert will be performed by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and is one of the first collaborations between the MIM and the Smithsonian.

The partnership also means that the MIM can turn to the Smithsonian as a resource when it comes to things like object identification, exhibition collaboration, educational programming and sharing artifacts.

All of this is to remind you of something too many of us do too easily — never taking time to visit cool places in our own area.

Whether it’s the MIM or some other Valley destination you’ve always heard great things about, make time to go. Approach the Valley like a tourist, drawing up an itinerary of places to visit, and you’ll always have a handy list to consult when you’re feeling stuck in a rut or get a windfall of free time.

I keep copies of the East Valley Tribune’s “East Valley Guide” and “Best of East Valley” special editions in my guest room, so that visitors can choose places they’d like to visit while they’re in town. I turn to them once in a while myself, when I’m feeling uninspired by the same old weekend routine.

What about you? Are there Valley attractions you’ve always meant to see but keep putting off? Email me the places that would make your list for a perfect day of living like a tourist in your own town.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.