While Sharon was busy at the Tucson Gem and Bead Show in February, Fred played hooky at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona.
Even though we had heard so much about this great museum, nothing adequately prepared Fred for the feast for the eyes and ears that he found at MIM. Fred had only four hours to spare, but could easily have spent four days looking at everything.
The huge MIM building, which opened in 2010, is filled with delights. Besides performance halls with frequent world music concerts and and educational programs for kids and adults too numerous to mention,
MIM takes you on a musical journey around the world.
MIM explores music and the instruments various peoples use to make their music. Every country…EVERY country…in the world has a display in MIM; each contains musical instruments, along with examples of national costumes related to their music.
Each exhibit has a video screen that continuously runs short music-videos (picked up on a receiver
in ear phones provided with your ticket) of the country’s musicians and their music, often playing the exact instrument on display.
Ironically, the only country not to respond to MIM’s requests for items for their nation’s exhibit was North Korea. The museum, not to leave anyone out, built a North Korean exhibit anyway. There is a music video playing showing uniformed lady soldiers playing instruments and singing a song praising “The Great Leader”. Their display space remains oddly empty, but MIM hopes one day to find some of their instruments to display.
Showing that even music is not without its political dimension, MIM’s very complete and visually stunning Tibet display has drawn criticism from the Chinese government. China claims that as Tibet is not a separate nation, it should not have its own display.
At least the Chinese can take solace in the fact that the display devoted to Moslem Uighur music and instruments is labeled Northwest China rather than Uighurstan, the independent state desired by Moslem separatists.
MIM has a robust website which we would encourage everyone to visit–http://mim.org/ …at least until you can visit Phoenix and see this amazing place for yourself!