The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona is possibly the most entertaining and engaging museum I have ever been in. Built in 2007, this unique museum houses nearly 15,000 instruments and showcases the music and culture from every country in the world.
Here, I am looking down from the top of a spiral staircase onto the floor below, with a map of the world inlaid with marble.
Visitors wear ear phones with a device that allows them to not only see the instruments, but hear them played on the video screens at each display. Music and instruments from around the world are featured in five Geographical Galleries.
My favorite part of the museum was the Artist Gallery, featuring stars of many different musical genres -- John Lennon, Elvis, Eric Clapton, Leonard Bernstein, Carlos Santana, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and ukelele player Jake Shimabukuro were a few I especially enjoyed. Also in the Artist Gallery, we found a drum (below) used in the impressive Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Bejiing.
There's a Mechanical Music Gallery, featuring calliopes, automatons, player pianos, and those music boxes that use the large metal discs. I loved these mechanical singing birds.
One could easily spend two days taking in all this museum has to offer. We were there for a full afternoon, and couldn't begin to see it all. Moving from one exhibit to another, we were reminded that music is universal. No matter what language we speak, music connects us. We use music to celebrate, to communicate, to entertain, and to express every human emotion.
If you are ever in the Phoenix area, I highly recommend you take the time to visit MIM.