I recently had the pleasure of receiving inside access to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona! This is one of the best museums in the entire nation. Proving that point, some rankings feature this museum in their top 20 American museums. Honestly, that’s not surprising given the fact that the MIM features over 6800 instruments on display, making it the largest museum of its type in the entire world. Quite the opposite experience of my trip to the lovely but quaint Red House Interpretive Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. But I’ll take it!
What I found especially intriguing was the fact that standard “music” cities like Nashville, Tennessee (Music City USA); Memphis, Tennessee (Blues Capital of the World and home to Elvis Presley mecca Graceland); and Los Angeles, California (home to masses of entertainment industry professionals) are not the home for this museum. In fact, Phoenix’s downtown isn’t even home to the Musical Instrument Museum. With lower land prices in the middle of a desert, the MIM is found in the northern most reaches of the city. And why Phoenix? Phoenix has rich cultural diversity and tons of visitors. Plus, the word on the street is that founder Robert J. Ulrich really liked the city beyond the strategic reasons. Let’s talk tips!
Musical Instrument Museum Visit Tips
The best Musical Instrument Museum tips I can provide to you primarily circulate around timing and scheduling. Here are my best five:
- Arrive Early & Stay Late – You’ll want to arrive early and stay late. Early because you may beat a few children, especially from school field trips. Late because the patrons really start to vacate the museum an hour and a half before it closes. In my final hour at the museum, I was able to see upper level exhibits in relative peace. At times, I felt like I was the only patron in the area! Hooray!
- Balance Your Time – Fitting in well with the first tip, you’ll want to balance your time across the exhibits. With the volume of instruments and video/instrument/music clips on each television throughout the exhibit, you will not be able to see everything in one day. So balance your time. Or come back tomorrow.
- Plan Transportation – Phoenix is enormous. While only 20 miles north of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the museum can be up to around 50 miles away from other points in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. I’m extremely thankful that I had a rental car to drive around the city, and my jaunt to the Musical Instrument Museum is no exception. Take this factor into account when planning your trip if you aren’t a local.
- Check Daily Schedules with Guest Services – You do not want to miss the Mechanical Music Gallery’s orchestrion performance. Ensure you ask Guest Services for timing of those twice daily performances as well as any other museum events.
- Check Concert Schedules Online – Don’t forget to look at the MIM Website for the concert schedule. Make a true full day of your visit by exploring the museum that day, eating dinner locally, and then returning for a night concert at their MIM Music Theater.
- BONUS TIP: Ensure you see my top must-see MIM Exhibits! Trust me, you’ll want to find and see them so don’t miss out!
With all the time-oriented tips, I think the phrase “prior planning prevents poor performance” applies to your visit. And when you do execute on that planning, you’ll thank me later! I learned a lot while being at the museum so you don’t want to waste a single minute during your time at this rich, cultural powerhouse in Phoenix. (Watch my video for a walkthrough of a lot of what you might see while at the Musical Instrument Museum!)
Do you have any tips? Share them below! Until next time, toodles!