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Smithsonian in the Valley?

June 8, 2011

When you wander through the amazing museums in Washington DC. Do you ever wish Arizona, the Valley, had a Smithsonian museum? Well guess what we do! Or at least one that does have tons of items on loan from the Smithsonian and an extensive collection it’s self. I am speaking of the Musical Instrument Museum.

MIM in Phoenix, AZ

It took me a while to get up to it and make the trek out to the 101 and Princess, Further in my mind than reality. What I found striking was the huge opportunity for learning going on.

First off there exhibits are broken into theme that start by country of origin and many include a video screen show the instruments being played and how it fits into the culture. Many times there are traditional or ceremonial clothing included in the display.

I found that I was reminded me of the performance artist Leigh Bowery.

Liegh Bowerey

There were also shadow puppets that crept into the displays! There was an interactive exhibit curated by the Music Experience.

That takes you on a musical journey there Latinos in Popular US Music and included a dance floor so when the mood hits and you need to move, you have a place. Be sure and check out the play room were you get to be a kid among kids and actually play some of the instruments a bong, a thermin, and a few xylophone-esque.

Now onto the gift shop, there where many instruments in real size or scaled down to a wearing size or even pocket. That would be my weakness especially when it is a Thermin. I have not put this together yet, but looking forward to being able to create my own 1950’s horror film music.

Though, I would never consider myself musical and that includes those years in elementary school badly playing the saxophone. I can say that those four hours spent wandering the museum were amazing, cool, insightful, inspiring and mindful. This was a unique opportunity to explore and experience a global and cultural part of what being human means. I could say I wish it was closer to downtown, accessible by public transit, or just plain easier to access, but that would not changed where it is. It is worth the drive! Carpool with friends, pack a lunch, just go!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 21, 2011 1:19 pm

    Hi Marshall,
    It’s Maggie from last Thursday. Thanks so much for talking with me and I would like to link your blog to mine if you don’t mind–I just love the info on it! I also came across a post card from the 50’s (or at least it was stamped in 58) of the Lulu Belle. I happen to have two if you would like the extra one. Let me know! I would love to come by and see your vintage neon as I am doing some paintings of them. Anyway, thanks again for chatting and talk soon!

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