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Special Reports

So, What is MIM?

September 2, 2014

The Musical Instrument Museum, opened in April of 2010, is a two-story, 190,000-square-foot structure of sandstone and glass situated on 20 acres of dry, arid land in Northern Phoenix, AZ. Its modest, boxy appearance belies its exotic contents: 6,000 different instruments on display—from a collection of over 15,000—representing more than 200 countries and territories around the globe. At present the museum lacks instruments only from a handful of countries, such as Maldives and North Korea.

In addition to the instruments themselves, video stations demonstrate how they are played. Visitors wear wireless earphones, enabling them to hear and see the instruments in their native contexts. MIM’s artifacts are organized by geographic region, with additional special exhibits like a hands-on “Experience Gallery” (inviting patrons to touch, play, and hear), and a “Mechanical Music Gallery,” with player pianos and other self-performing instruments.
 
MIM has by any measure been a huge success for the Southwest region. In 2014, USA Today listed it among the “20 Best Museums for Families Across the USA,” and Trip Advisor named it the number one attraction in Arizona. Its visitor total in 2013 was 247,000. That  is certainly due in part to its unique holdings, but it can be argued that the museum’s success would not be possible without its palpable sense of mission, “to reach young people everywhere,” says founding (and former) President and Director Bill DeWalt.  Only four years young, MIM is well positioned to achieve that goal. 
 

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