Did you know that there is a truly amazing, one-of-a museum-kind in Phoenix?! The Musical Instrument Museum (formed by Robert J. Ulrich, former CEO and chairman emeritus of Target Corporation) features instruments (boasting a collection of over 15,000) from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Through special technology, visitors get to see and hear these instruments in their original cultural settings. We got the opportunity to check it out recently and absolutely loved it!
First off, I was surprised at how big it is (200,000 sq. ft!!). Seriously, the facilities are huge and beautiful!! In fact, they are SO nice that as soon as we set foot inside, I was worried about having the kids with me. But, I was so pleasantly surprised at how family-friendly the MIM is! There is a cafe on site and a much-appreciated feature of the Family Center! How great is that? A place for kiddos to take a break! The space had toys for the kids, little tables, couches, a nursing room, and private family bathrooms. After a couple of hours of exploring with 5 kids under age 6 (I had a friend with me), this was a much needed respite. I’ve rarely been to a museum or business with this kind of Family Center. It was a VERY nice touch!!
After getting acquainted with all the MIM has to offer, we headed up to the Geographical Galleries. They focus on 5 major regions of the world. In these galleries we made use of the wireless headsets. As you approach each display, you can hear the instruments that are a part of it being played. Many of the displays even include flat-panel monitors where you can see the instruments being preformed. Once again, I was a bit nervous about how the kids would do with this. But, they did surprisingly well–even the 2 year olds! The handled the wireless headsets well and loved hearing the music at each display. There were a few displays we had to tear them away from! And, the dancing– SO cute! The bottom left and right photos are mid-jamming sessions. The bigger boys (ages 4 & 5.5) could have stayed a lot longer! But, the littest ones really wanted to touch everything. It’s not allowed in these galleries, but the MIM does feature a whole hand-on area! So, after making our way through about 2.5 of the 5 regions, we headed down to the Experience Gallery. I think the kids could have stayed there for hours! The former band member in me loved to see our budding percussionists! It was so fun! We will definitely be back.
Catch the Holiday Spirit at MIM
From December 6 to January 6, the Musical Instrument Museum will present “Holiday World Tour,” a celebration of the winter holiday season highlighting a broad sampling of the world’s music and cultures. During “Holiday World Tour,” guests will experience the sights and sounds of annual winter traditions celebrated around the world, including Diwali (India), St. Nicholas Day (Netherlands), community caroling (Ukraine), Winter Solstice (China), Junkanoo (Bahamas), and more! Numerous decorated trees honor the festivities of different countries, and video monitors in the museum galleries will showcase regional traditions. MIM is partnering with several artists to provide authentic representations of specific customs and traditions, such as storyteller and musician Loca Rosa, who will discuss Russian Hanukkah traditions. Community music performances scheduled throughout the monthlong celebration include handbells, carolers, mariachi, keyboards, mechanical music demonstrations, and instrumental and piano concerts of world-music repertoire by young musicians. “Holiday World Tour” programs are free with museum admission. Visit MIM.org for a full schedule.
Friday, December 7 | 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets: $25 per child
Calling all girls and boys on Santa’s Nice List! Spend the evening at MIM getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Little elves will get a special tour of MIM’s galleries, play instruments in the Experience Gallery, and listen to a special performance of Christmas music performed by talented young students of the East Valley Yamaha School of Music. They’ll also have the chance to make a musical holiday craft and decorate Christmas cookies (and eat them, of course!). All activities will be led by MIM staff and trained volunteers. Parents, this is your chance to get some Christmas shopping done! Drop your children off by 5:30 p.m. and pick them up at 8:30 p.m. Children should bring a sack dinner; beverages will be provided. Space is limited so please contact Annabel Rimmer at 480.245.6919 or grouptours@MIM.org to register. Best for ages 6‒10.
Taylor Swift Christmas Songbook/Journal Workshop
Thursday, December 13 | 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets: Free with museum admission
Make a special songbook/journal to record this magical season. Taylor Swift loves Christmas (it’s her favorite holiday!) and she loves to spend time journaling, too. Be inspired by her and create your own Christmas songbook. MIM will provide a selection of Christmas tunes (including some of Taylor’s favorites) and all the supplies to make the cover as sparkly as the season. The songbook will include journal pages so you can personalize the holiday. Best for ages 10‒adult. Space is limited; please make a reservation for a 30-minute time frame by contacting Annabel Rimmer at 480.245.6919 or grouptours@MIM.org.
Family Day (Saturday, January 5)
- Family Day: New Year’s Jazz Masquerade 10 a.m.‒4 p.m. (Tickets: Free with museum admission)
Celebrate the start of the New Year in style! MIM is hosting a family-friendly day full of the vibrant sights and sounds of American jazz and Caribbean masquerade traditions. Enjoy mini tours, make drums from recycled materials, create festive masquerade masks, participate in a jazzy story time, and march (or dance) into 2013 by joining a performance with the ASU Dixie Devils. It’s sure to be fun for everyone in the family! Visit MIM.org for a full schedule.
Have YOU been to the MIM? What did you think?
Disclosure: We received free admission to the museum for the purposes of review. However, all opinions and experiences are entirely my own.