Party like it’s MIM
February 16, 2011 6 Comments
Sarah and I went to the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale today, and on the whole I’d give it a thumbs up. It’s laid out by continent and then by country, occasionally with sub-regions inside the country. In the North America / US region, there are a couple of very elaborate sections on the Martin and Steinway factories. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Steinway was American – for some reason I had thought that he was German; but in any case, the description of the techniques used in their construction brought to mind Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, which is a fine and profound work.
I think my favorite of the non-North American musical sections was from Mongolia (!) – the ensemble included a two-stringed bowed lute that had tones which were quite pleasing to my Western diatonic ear, and yet exotic at the same time.
The museum has a couple of neat layout items:
- You get a wireless headset which lets you hear the music of the individual countries as you approach the display. This worked most of the time, although there were a few kinks, and a few cases where the displays were close enough together that one overlapped the other.
- Downstairs, there was a “family center” which seemed to be a place to take young children who needed to run around and make noise. It appeared to be soundproof. This is the best idea I’ve ever seen at a museum, and I wish more would do this.
- There is an “experience” room, which includes a bunch of instruments which can be played. We were in there at the same time as a school group, so it’s fair to describe it as “cacophonous.”
- Directly across from the cacophony was their conservation/preservation room, where you can observe ongoing preservation activities. Neat!
- But the best part was that near the entrance there was a room filled with all sorts of neat guitars, and right outside the entrance was this:
The sign next to the empty case reads “air guitar, made of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, dreams.” This is proof that they have a sensibility which is entirely suitable for talking about music.
It’s a neat museum, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the Phoenix area.
The title comes from the museum’s logo: “MIM” which I find impossible to read as anything other than “1999.”