Extending Your Stay in Phoenix: The Musical Instrument Museum

Are you bringing a companion to the conference who is looking for a great spot to visit? Perhaps you have a few extra days left in Phoenix before traveling home from the 25th International Sculpture Conference? 

Once you have finished your time learning about the latest art and architecture innovations through New Frontiers in Sculpture, you might want to see one of Phoenix’s new frontiers in music. Phoenix’s Musical Instrument Museum, or MIM as it’s known for short, is waiting for you to discover. Just opened in 2010, MIM is a perfectly unique destination for that extra day you might have before your flight heads out of Phoenix.

MIM has a collection of 15,000 instruments and artifacts, with over 6,000 of them displayed at a time – hailing from over 200 countries. And these pieces aren’t exactly like that cello you tried to pick up in 5th grade. They’re more like that cello’s more famous cousin used by renowned cellist Pablo Casals. However, the people who used them aren’t simply the novelty of the instruments. Many of them are as much pieces of beautifully sculpted art made by hand as the body of sound they make – so very intricate and rare.

The Musical Instrument Museum houses six distinct collections that cover just about anything you can imagine in the world of musical instruments. There’s the Geographical Gallery that includes artifacts that represent all continents and major regions of the world, as well as the Mechanical Music Gallery where the player pianos play and the mechanical zithers “zith.” The Experience Gallery invites you to be the musician (your dreams come true!), or if you are a fan of cultural icons and stars, the Artist Gallery holds instruments used by John Lennon, Elvis Presley and even Taylor Swift. To get a look into how those at MIM maintain the original luster and tuning of the collection’s items, walk over to the Conservation Lab. Finally, be sure to see what’s new in the Target Gallery, which seeks to enhance MIM’s permanent collection with traveling exhibitions and special events.

Perhaps one of MIM’s most unique innovations is its wireless audio “hot spots” which bring alive the items in the galleries by playing music based on your location within the museum. As you travel at your own pace, your headset will seamlessly transfer sounds from one exhibit to the next as you watch the instruments on display being played on flat screens all over your journey. It is quite the sensorial experience that surrounds each guest, bringing the sights and sounds of the world’s music right to you. The museum is very much alive

Open all week from 9am-5pm; don’t forget to make time for the Musical Instrument Museum. It will certainly be an extra day in Phoenix well spent around your time at the 25th International Sculpture Conference.

Credits: (From top to bottom) 1. Musical Instrument Museum, 2011. Photo by Scott Durgan via Flickr.com. 2. Photo by Alex via Flickr.com.  3. ScottsdalePressTrip-Day3 135, 2011. Photo by DebMomOf via Flickr.com.
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