Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

musical instrument museum phoenix

Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona

musical instrument museum phoenix

After living in Scottsdale for six years we had driven past the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) hundreds of times and every time we wondered why we had not visited yet. We heard nothing but good things about the museum so what was stopping us? Maybe the fact that it’s a museum about just instruments...doesn’t sound too fascinating. But keep reading.

As music lovers we both have an appreciation for music. Zach grew up playing the drums and piano. Steph grew up playing the flute and piano. We both find music to be the perfect complement to life: country music for driving, gangsta rap for working out, and classical music for studying, etc. With our experience, we thought we knew more than most people about musical instruments. Listen up- we had no idea!

“Music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”

― Leonard Bernstein

musical instrument museum phoenix

The MIM was incredible and no we’re not being paid to say that. We spent four hours there and could have doubled that. From exhibits to videos to interactive rooms, there’s more than enough to see of the 6,800 instruments originating from 200 countries and territories. Well, to be accurate they actually have over 13,600 instruments but they only display half of them at a time. So the good news is, you can visit back every so often to see new instruments!

So where did all the instruments come from? Mr. Robert Ulrich, former CEO of the Target Corporation, went to an instrument museum in Belgium and loved it. He was sitting in an outdoor cafe with a friend, drinking a beer and smoking a cigar, after his third visit to the city’s instrument museum. According to the NY Times he told his friend “it was such a neat experience,” and his friend said, why don’t you build one? So in 2010 he built the MIM in Phoenix, Arizona. He has always been a collector of African art which included instruments so he donated money as well as his personal collection.

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” ― Bono

musical instrument museum phoenix
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The MIM’s exhibits are split up into five sections by Geographic Galleries: Africa & Middle East, Asia & Oceania, Europe, Latin America, and USA & Canada. Each exhibit has versions of instruments that are common to the region, including videos of natives playing those instruments. While visiting the museum, you wear a wireless headset that is sensored. So as soon as you step up to an exhibit, it starts playing the music for that one. How. Freaking. Cool.

Like we said before, there was so much more to instruments than we thought. Instruments from the USA are just the tip of the iceberg. It was the instruments from other countries that astonished us. The creativity, the unique sounds, and the true joy music brings to people all around the world never gets old. Music brings us to life!

musical instrument museum phoenix

The thing we found most interesting about the Africa and Middle East exhibit was the creativity in the instruments. What we would consider trash here in the USA like old oil cans, old forks, and bottles were turned into instruments. Yes, actual, good-sounding, musical instruments.

A few of our other favorite things were in the Asia gallery where there was an interesting video on how gongs are made. Wow- hard work!  Then in the USA gallery there was a Steinway Piano exhibit with step-by-step demos and videos on how pianos are made. It ain’t easy looking: bending wood to be the shape of a piano!

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”

― Billy Joel

musical instrument museum phoenix
musical instrument museum phoenix
musical instrument museum

Don’t leave without going to the interactive Experience Gallery that is filled with lots of instruments you finally get to play! Bang your heart out!

In addition, on the first floor is a small room filled with some of the most beautiful guitars we’ve ever seen! All different sizes, shapes, colors, and origins! Lastly, there’s an Artist’s Exhibit filled with clothing worn by famous musicians like Taylor Swift, John Lennon, and Elvis Presley.

All in all, the MIM reminded us that music is the language of the soul. No matter where in the world or what instruments are being played, music moves us from the inside out.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

 ― Plato

musical instrument museum phoenix

How to Visit the MIM

Open daily 9am-5pm

Adults $20

Address: 4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050

On top of visiting the MIM to see the museum, you can also go there for concerts! Checkout their upcoming concerts here.

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” ― Bob Marley

musical instrument museum phoenix

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musical instrument museum phoenix

About the Author

Hello, we are Zach (@zachdorworth) and Steph (@stephdorworth). We are Mr & Mrs traveling the world one romantic city at a time while perfecting obsessively organized travel.

  • How great I stumbled upon this post! We’re planning on going to the MIM when we visit my father in a few weeks. I love that origin story. It’s great when places exist purely because of passion for a subject.

  • Sreekar says:

    Wow. Thats so amazing. Never really been to a musical museum. This surely is informative and inspirational to newbie musicians like me!

  • I love that they let you actually play the instruments, so much better when a museum is interactive! Damn that saxophone looks amazing, I might have the musical talent of a flea but I’d still love to have a crack at some of these

  • Leah says:

    Well, I learned my something new today. I had no idea there was a Musical Instrument Museum in Arizona, or anywhere in the USA, in fact. The Artist’s Exhibit seems cool. I always like to see stars clothes after the fact.

  • Barb says:

    Arizona has so many cool places to visit. I m surprised they even have a Musical Instrument Museum. Such a cool place to explore for those who love music!

  • We have always loved museums as they are windows to the heritage and culture of a place. A museum dedicated to musical instruments sounds really fascinating. After all Music is one of the expressions of humans that reflects its history. The fact that it is not just another place that only has exhibits is great, the fact that you get to actually play the instruments makes the place come alive. Remembering a recent visit to a cultural museum in Malaysia where we had a blast creating cacophony from some musical instruments!

  • Shweta says:

    What a cool museum. I would love to take my daughter here, she loves instruments and knowing more about different ones from different parts of the world.

  • Janna says:

    Aww what an interesting place! I never thought they have such a thing especially in Phoenix. It kinda reminds me of this museum I visited in Seattle where they let you play with the instruments too.

  • Ferna says:

    Some of the instruments are a bit familiar to me particularly in Asia, gongs are the ones we love dancing to it’s beat. And it blows me away having seen such a museum, glad this former CEO from Target decided to create this museum. I would surely try their interactive way of hearing the sounds of the instruments. And oh! It’s my first time hearing about a museum like this.

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