Saturday, July 13, 2013


Many people asked us why we would move to Phoenix when we lived in a semi-retirement town in the cool country of Arizona.  Our answer was: for the culture.  We have been fulfilling our desire for culture in many ways since we returned to the desert that we left 28 years ago. Today was a visit to the MIM - the Musical Instrument Museum.

Now we had been there once before, for the Iris Dement concert.  But that was in the evening after the museum except for the theatre had closed.  So today we went for the exhibits.  And to mark Bastille Day (which is actually tomorrow).  The MIM was taking two days to celebrate, with special French meals being served in their cafe and French music at various times during the two days.  We were treated to a short performance by a Phoenix-based gypsy jazz band - Zazu.

Marvelous to hear the musical styles of Django Reinhardt and other French bistro songs. Talking with the musicians after the concert gave truth to the old expression - you can't make a living playing jazz.  The excellent bass player is also a general contractor.  The young man playing the white guitar said this was his last gig because he's starting medical school. Sad that these talented musicians can't support themselves with an art they are so good at.

But on to the museum.  This is the only museum of its kind, devoted to music of all kinds and types from around the world.  There are instruments on display like the world's first Steinway piano.

And an early harpsichord.

There are drums . . .

. . . and in the Experience Gallery, youngsters and adults can have a hands-on experience of their own.

There are drums and rattles and bells and gongs and chimes and everyone is invited to "chime" in!  The kids love it!

Oh, I forgot to mention there were face-painters on hand and this young lady is also wearing a French rosette that she made herself to commemorate the day.

Here's another example of the face-painter's art.  Looks like a Lion King to me.

But, once again, back to the museum.

There are guitars galore.

Including some famous ones.

Many of the exhibits feature video screens with short clips demonstrating the art as part of the display.

In the artist gallery there are exhibits highlighting performers from Pablo Casals to Elvis Presley.

That last one is the belt and holster Elvis wore in his movie, Charro.

I'm wondering now why I didn't photograph Casal's cello, or the yellow legal pad sheet that has Roy Orbison's printed lyrics to Pretty Woman.

So what else is there?

A display of Zildjian cymbals, the world's best . . .

. . . and, speaking of drums, one of the drums that opened the 2008 Beijing Olympics . . .

. . . a huge organ in the mechanical music gallery . . .

. . . a four-horned instrument of some kind or another . . .

. . . a display of bowed instruments . . .

. . . one on the beginning of an orchestra . . .

. . . instruments from seemingly every country in the world.

And costumes from musical celebrations from countries far and wide.  (above: Sardinia)

There is much, much more to see.  I haven't even begun to show you the galleries from Latin America or Africa or Oceania.  My feet, frankly, wore out.  But I'll be back, again and again.  And when the weather cools off, there's a delightful outdoor gallery to rest in.


  1. Incredible. What a great museum!! I hope you'll be up for a return visit when we come calling some day. Lana and I are thrilled, and enjoying vicariously, your return to Phoenix and its many cultural offerings.

  2. Oh, yes, we have that one notched for you guys.

  3. Wow, is all I can say. Super post.

  4. Other than saying 'great', 'fabulous' etc. etc., what can one say? A wonderful exploratory journey into the past. The face painting was excellent. Thanks for showing us around.

  5. Such a fun museum. I don't think we can ever say that we have seen everything in this museum. So many details and so much to discover.

  6. I looks AMAZING! Still, I might have considered a winter home in Phoenix and spent my summers at a higher altitude. But that's just me. I think you are where you need to be. :)


    1. Yes, and one can always drive 80 miles or so and be in the mountains.

  7. This is a nice tour of the place that you have put together for us! I love those kid portraits with the adorable painted faces.

    1. Judy, I think they made it even more special. And the artist was very talented it appears.

  8. I had no idea Arizona had so many museums. Have you been to Frank Lloyd Wright's studio in Scottsdale?

    1. I assume you're referring to Taliesin West. No, we have not been there. I'll have to put it on my calendar.


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