This museum features a massive collection of musical instruments from around 200 countries and territories around the world. Special headsets are included in the price of admission which play music from each instrument display whenever you stand in front of it. Kids especially love the Experience Gallery where they can play instruments from around the world.
Visiting the Musical Instrument Museum with my family of 7 (kids ages 9, 6, 4, 2, and 7 months) made me a little nervous. Would there be enough hands-on for the kids? Would they enjoy the instrument displays? Would they even keep the headphones on? Lucky for me, the answer to all of these questions was yes. MIM educated and entertained my family and was enjoyable for all.
Most visitors spend about 4 hours here. With small ones, you'll need to choose which countries and exhibits interest you the most and start there. Our favorites were the Mechanical Instrument Room and the instruments of Asia. The highlight of our visit was the Experience Room. Here, guests can try instruments for themselves. Some of the instruments here were common (guitars and drums) but many were more unique. We all loved ringing the giant gong. I recommend stopping by this room last because the kids won't want to leave.
Upstairs the instrument displays are arranged by continent, then country. When standing in front of an exhibit, a video screen displays instruments being played or dances being performed while the sound comes through your headphones automatically. My 9 and 6-year-olds loved the multi-media presentation and spent a few minutes at each display to get the full experience and really study the instruments. The 4 and 2-year-old also liked listening to the music and watching the screens, just for shorter time periods. But they were able to move on and still be in my line of vision thanks to the open layout of the museum. Get headphones for all ages, even your babies. I turned the volume up all the way and put the headphones around my babies neck so she could experience the music as well and she loved it. These rooms are also really quiet since all the sound is experienced through your headphones. If your littles will nap in the stroller, you can push them around up there while you explore.
On the lower level is a Family Center. Be sure to stop by when you or your kids need a break. In addition to the private nursing room and restroom, this room has a wall of toys and books for children to enjoy, all related to music of course. The door to this room can even be closed so little runners don’t escape into the rest of the museum. After a baby-feeding break here, we were able to experience the upstairs a little longer.
In the lobby is a grand piano with a sign encouraging pianists of all skill levels to play for the enjoyment of museum visitors. My 9-year-old loved playing Ode to Joy on this beautiful instrument and receiving applause from onlookers. We even saw a mother bring her son’s piano books for him to use to perform with.
One additional tip-MIM does not allow backpacks or back baby carriers, so if you babywear, you need to bring a sling or front pack.
Bottom-line: Although a visit to this museum comes with a high price tag, it is a unique experience that families will enjoy. I definitely recommend this family friendly museum to music lovers visiting the Phoenix area.
Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary visit to the Musical Instrument Museum by the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Take the family on a trip around the world with a visit to Phoenix's musical instrument museum. With more than 6000 musical instruments on display from over 200 countries and territories, the collection is vast. And the best part-- you don't have to be a music aficionado to enjoy the museum.
My family, including my three small girls, found the museum to be profoundly inspiring in not just a musical sense, but in a cross-cultural, understanding-of-the-entire-world sense. I've shared facts and tidbits about a variety of countries and cultures with my kids and for the most part, this type of teaching has gone straight over their heads. At MIM, however, these countries were brought alive through the music, instruments, costumes, artifacts, and dance of cultures around the world. State of the art technology communicates seamlessly with displays allowing you to hear and see musicians playing the exact instruments, in their home country, right in front of you. Through the "language of the soul," the music on display at MIM certainly connected us to cultures we had never visited or new little about.
Even as an adult, I can hardly articulate the feeling of watching musicians in their local environment, playing their own creations. The common denominator in all of the presentations is pure joy, and it was just that to watch this cultural and interpersonal encounter thanks to the amazing power of music.
The Artist's Gallery features instruments and memorabilia from a variety of famous musicians including Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and my girl's favorite: Taylor Swift, where they could have stayed for quite some time.
Although the collection is thoroughly entertaining, even for young kids, they might just want to get in on the action. Visit the Experience Gallery where you can play instruments from around the globe in a relaxed (albeit loud) setting. Mom or dad might even want to join in on the fun.
Small kids who are needing a respite from the museum will enjoy the Family Center with restrooms, a nursing station, and comfy chairs for the whole family. Kid friendly books on music and its influence can help occupy them during a break.
Cafe Allegro, which is highly regarded in the culinary community of Phoenix, was closed during my visit, but the grab-and-go station remained open where you could sample tasty snacks, salads, sandwiches, or sip on a cup of Starbucks Coffee.
- Strollers are allowed in the museum (yay!)
-Food and beverages are not. These must be consumed in the Cafe area only.
-I recommend going through the galleries before visiting the Experience Gallery (where kids can play their own instruments).
-Kid-friendly programming is offered throughout the year that teaches instruments, helps them learn how to rebuild instruments, and more.
-Be on the lookout for special family events that are an even greater value.
I cannot recommend this museum enough to families. Lovers of music or not, this cross-cultural experience is an absolute must for those hoping to share global connections with their kids.
Disclosure: I received complimentary admission into the museum for the purpose of this visit. I was not required to state any particular view; all opinions are my own.
To begin, I have to share with you how I felt leaving the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). It was a feeling of pure delight for having discovered and experienced something completely unexpected and profound. I don't want to give away too many details so you too will have the opportunity to make your own discovery.
This modern museum dressed in richly grained Indian sandstone houses the largest collection dedicated to world music. As you roam leisurely through the halls with headset to your ears, you'll tour the world through the music of humanity. I love how the WIFI headsets transition seamlessly from one set of music to another, matching each exhibit you are waking by. It is like listening to one long continuous medley.
In the 3-4 hours you are likely to spend at the MIM, you will travel around the world and through time, visiting the people and nations of the world. You'll meet famous rockstars and humble artisans making music even as they pound hot brass into submission. You'll see instruments, sounds, melodies, and beats so varied you can't help but be astonished. At the same time, you'll marvel at how music transcends all those differences. You'll see how to be human is to make music.
For a child who lights up to music, the MIM is a gateway with the potential to unlock the world to them. The wonderful thing about music is that you don't need to read to appreciate it. This is a museum tour that involves minimal reading to enjoy. For the otherwise inclined, the MIM will lure you into her chorus. Maybe it's the precise engineering and craft making at the Conservation Gallery that piques your interest. Perhaps it's the unveiling of cultures and history that compel you to keep exploring. Maybe it's the personalities and stories of famous rock stars that dazzle you.
Regardless, it is no wonder that the MIM is the #1 attraction in Phoenix. Everyone, young and old must visit and revisit the MIM. One just can't find enough accolades to express what a wonderful treasure of a place this is.
Kids will especially enjoy lingering in the Experience Gallery where they can get hands on with rare musical instruments. Teens won't be able to resist paying homage to their favorite stars. Hello, any Taylor Swift fans out there? Also, plan to dine at Cafe Allegro. Don't be fooled by the self-serve counter because you'll find delicious, locally-sourced, chef-prepared meals being served here. These globally inspired dishes change seasonally depending what's available locally and transpose the global experience to your plate.
The 300 seat MIM Music Theatre provides an intimate setting to soak yourself in live music and dance performed by many visiting artists. The MIM also hosts several workshops for children throughout the year.
*Disclosure: I visited the MIM as part of a media tour, but the experience is entirely mine along with my opinions.
I will be honest- when I first heard about the Musical Instrument Museum, I thought it sounded pretty boring. I mean, how long can one stare at a collection of guitars without being bored to tears? I WAS SO WRONG! The museum was much more than I ever expected and my entire family had a great time. If you are looking for a break from the intense AZ heat and a great way to make your vacation experience a bit more educational, look no further!
The key to the experience is the complimentary set of wireless headphones included with admission. These headphones bring the sounds of each instrument to life, introducing you to a variety of new sounds you might have never known to exist. We began in the Native American room and we were all mezmorized by the sounds. Rock 'n Roll was also quite popular with my family, perhaps too popular. After spending about 90 minutes listening to the sounds of North America, the kids got a bit antsy so we took them down to the Experience Gallery. Truth be told, I could have spent all day in the different galleries but the average six-year-old attention span just doesn't last that long.
The Experience Gallery was a huge hit! The kids could bang and strum away on all sort of instruments for as long as they liked. My husband and I took this opportunity to rotate who could head back upstairs and check out the Asia, Europe, and Africa rooms. Finally, after about an hour in the Experience Gallery, the kids had their fill and we had to bid the museum goodbye.
Could we have visited the museum without our kids and had a wonderful day listening to the sounds of the world? Yes, most things related to travel are simpler without children. But when I think about the education my kids received while at the museum and the increase in appreciation of music and culture that their little brains have, I wonder how I could ever visit without them.
Disclosure: The Scottsdale CVB provided me with tickets to visit the Musical Instrument Museum in order to complete this unbiased review. All opinions are my own.