Music at Its Finest at the Musical Instruments Museum

Music. Fun. History. Entertainment. Yes, it is possible to experience all these things in one great museum, the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona, which opened in 2010. My husband and I were amazed at the exhibits and the presentations the museum holds. (

First, and foremost, the security guards and the desk staff were so friendly that we immediately felt at home as we put on our headsets and entered the exhibits. MIM has more than 4,300 instruments displayed in its large, well-lit galleries. In addition to the musical instruments themselves, in the Geographic Galleries each country’s exhibit contains a video showing the musical instruments in their country of origin. The music begins as you walk closer to the presentation. As you move out of range or into another area, you hear the music from a different country. We could have spent days watching and listening to music from across the world in the five Geographic Galleries, but we only had 3 hours to spend. (The museum has over 200 countries represented.) Most of the countries were familiar names, but some, such as Burkina Faso and Sao Tome and Principe were much less familiar.  I did learn a great deal, even about the countries that I knew. For example, Cuban music is a blend of many cultures, indigenous, African, Spanish, and more. This blend resulted in many of the popular genres that were brought to the United States including the mambo, chachacha, and salsa.

The Artist Gallery highlights instruments played by famous musicians as diverse as Elvis Presley, Roberta Flack, Pablo Casals, and Joan Baez, just to name a few. Visitors can watch videos and listen to these artists while learning about the lives and careers. The Experience Gallery gives visitors opportunities to make music on their own by playing instruments that they may have never even seen or heard of. The Encore Gallery is a hands-on area for young children, The museum also has a family guide available to make the experience even more fun for children.

MIM’s Music Theater presents concerts throughout the year while their programs offer classes for all ages including professional development for educators.

The museum has a café which was closed during our visit due to Covid, but I would suggest a break during the visit since all the wonderful experiences can become overwhelming after a while.

At the end of our visit, we already wanted to return to see the sections that we simply had not had time to visit. Indeed, the Musical Instruments Museum reminded us how true their premise is, “Music is the language of the soul.”

Candace Ahlfinger has loved traveling since she was little and has always been on the go whenever possible. Now she is retired and gets to do what she loves best… TRAVEL! Whether it’s traveling with her wonderful husband, or our children and grandchildren, traveling is a great experience that enriches her life. Because she always enjoys reading and hearing about others’ travel experiences, she wants to share her travels with the Ellis DownHome readers. 


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