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The Musical Instruments Museum

By Becky Ogden

I haven’t been as pleasantly surprised by the quality of the field trip and by how much I enjoyed a field trip at the Musical Instrument Museum since last winter’s trip to the Japanese Gardens in Phoenix.  Yes, I’d heard some rave reviews of the MIM from other people.  I just still wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and let me tell you: my expectations were blown away.  This museum was awesome.

Our group met in the lobby, where they had a piano.  Right away, the music is there.  My daughter and her friend couldn’t resist playing a few tunes…

Now, if you go on your own, at this point, you receive a self-guided headset.  What happens with these headsets is that they are automatically programmed to respond with the appropriate music or talk in front of each exhibit that features video.  VERY cool.  Being a guided tour, though, we had a docent and no headsets at that point.

The MIM is huge.  It’s spacious.  It’s also laid out incredibly well.  They have “galleries” – one for each continent, one for artists, one for music in photography, one for hands-on play, and well, you get the gist.  Each gallery has its own focus.  Our docent was a terrific guide, and regaled us with all sorts of information, stories and trivia.

Here are some exhibits up close:

In the center of the museum, there is a beautifully crafted world map in-laid on the floor.  Once we’d finished our tour of the continent galleries, our docent had a child stand on each continent that we’d “visited”…

Here are a few of my favorite exhibits, or pieces of exhibits:

That was the fiddle used in the final installment of the Harry Potter movies.

That is a rattle/shaker that is designed to be worn around the waist.  It’s made of goat hooves.  It’s in the Middle East exhibit.

That’s Toby Keith’s exhibit in the Artists’ Gallery.  My kids recognized a blurb from one of his featured songs from the intro to the Sean Hannity show!  lol  Anyway, I listened to both of his songs, and I read the information about him.  I love his voice!

That was also in the Artists’ Gallery.  It’s a drum that was used in the ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics.  In the video screen, you can watch as something like 2000 synchronized drummers performed.  Pretty incredible! 
There’s also a huge Elvis Presley exhibit in the Artists’ Gallery.  My kids and I really enjoyed that one. 
We got to spend some time in the hands-on gallery.  They have a variety of instruments featured throughout the museum that people can play.  This was a huge hit with all of the kids!

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Directly across from that gallery, you can see where the museum does restoration….

My big kids and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and cannot wait to go back.  This is one museum that I actually believe would be worth a full-price admission.  You could spend all day there and still not see everything!  (For those who do choose to stay all day, they also have an on-site restaurant.)  That being said, this is not a museum for little kids.  Little kids just don’t have the attention span to stand in front of exhibit after exhibit and listen to the narration and the music.  I don’t think I’d take the average child under about 8-years-old.

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Reprinted with permission from Just Field Trips

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