(Phoenix, AZ) Hi 90 Lo 64 – One of the sites on our list to see here in Phoenix was the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). We learned about it on our friend Nick Russell’s blog. Dee and I were both “band geeks” in high school, as were our two sons, so we have a real appreciation of music and instruments. The museum is only about seven miles from our park, so it was a quick trip. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)
The museum is in a two-story building on the northeast edge of Phoenix. There are exhibits on both floors. We started out in the artist’s hall, which had instruments that belonged to famous musicians. For instance, there was John Lennon’s piano.
Guitars that belonged to Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.
A nice exhibit of Elvis Presley memorabilia.
For classical fans (like me), there was a cello (and case) owned by one of the greatest cellists in history, Pablo Casals.
When we paid our admission we were issued small radio receivers and headphones. Every exhibit had a TV monitor, and when we walked up to it to watch the video the audio would automatically come through our headphones. Pretty slick!
There is a beautiful Steinway grand piano in the lobby, and anyone who wished to could play it. A young lady sat down and started playing some beautiful classical music.
We talked with her mother while she played and learned she’s a junior in high school, and is considering going into musical performance. She certainly seems to have the talent for it
There was one room that was filled with all kinds of instruments that anyone could play with.
There were guitars, drums of all sorts, and just about anything you could think of that you can strike, from drums of all kinds to xylophones. Dee has always been fascinated with harps, so she was thrilled to get to try out a small harp.
I got a kick out of the theremin. If you don’t know what a theremen is, it’s a very early electronic instrument (invented in 1929) that has an electric field between two antennas, and you make tones by moving your hands between the antennas. You control the pitch with your right hand, and the volume with your left. It’s very eerie sounding, bringing to mind the science fiction movies of the 1950’s. Here I am giving it a try.
There was one whole room dedicated to mechanical instruments, with all kinds of paper roll instruments, music boxes, and mechanical organ contraptions.
This organ was huge, covering an entire wall. It’s a self-playing organ (no keyboard), and we were lucky to be there when they demonstrated it. It was very loud!
The entire second floor was arranged geographically, with exhibits of instruments from just about every country in the world. There were also exhibits for specific musical themes and instruments.
This marching band exhibit brought back memories of our high school days.
There were some beautiful guitars in this room.
There were also some unusual ones, like this combination guitar and harp.
And this “no frills” guitar, with just the strings and fret board.
Zithers, dulcimers, and autoharps.
And hundreds of unusual instruments from all over the world.
We loved how each exhibit had a TV showing musical excerpts from the country or instruments on display, with the audio automatically fed to our headphones. In our opinion the admission is a little high ($18.00 apiece, with no discounts), we felt the museum was worth it. We thoroughly enjoyed the four hours we spent there, and highly recommend it for any music lover, or anyone interested in the history of musical instruments.
We don’t have anything planned for tomorrow, so we’ll probably tell you about the park we’re in. See you then.