Party like it’s MIM

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:
    air guitar at MIM
    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.”


About thegameiam
I'm a network engineer, musician, and Orthodox Jew who opines on things which cross my path.

6 Responses to Party like it’s MIM

  1. Michael says:

    Speaking of music and Scottsdale, are you going to happen by Fender HQ, or do they not have anything to see onsite?

    • thegameiam says:

      I didn’t realize that their HQ was here, but it doesn’t look like they have a visor center.

  2. Andrés says:

    You know MIM is Lazy Latin shorthand for MCMXCIX, right? 🙂

    • thegameiam says:

      Is there a problem with being lazy?

  3. You know what would be awesome? If they had a very conspicuous security system surrounding the air guitar. Any time anyone asked about it, the museum officials could explain that the AG, by it’s very nature, is easy to conceal and make off with so they want to take every precaution to protect it.

    • thegameiam says:

      It is one of a small number of instruments in a glass case: most of the others are open to the air.

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