Music for the Eyes and Ears in Phoenix

MIM Phoenix Musical Instruments

Silk Road Instruments at MIM. © Fred Lundahl

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.

NIM Phoenix NM Musical

Musical Instruments from Afghanistan at MIM. © Fred Lundahl

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 Phoenix Tibetan Musical Instruments

Tibetan Instruments at MIM.© Fred Lundahl

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

NIM Phoenix South African Instruments

South African Instruments at NIM. © Fred Lundahl

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.

North Korea NIM

North Korean Display at NIM. © Fred Lundahl

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– …at least until you can visit Phoenix and see this amazing place for yourself!

Tucson Gem Bead Show Arizona

Sharon Buying Beads at Tucson Gem Show. © Fred Lundahl




Would love to see the MIM. When I lived in Tucson I did attend the TM&G show with a friend who was a mining engineer. Originally, he was from PA. I learned alot but also have forgotten alot!
Thanks for sharing.

Ginny Nelson~Freeland

Hi Fred and Sharon,
I’ve always thought I’d love to tag along with the two of you to the far flung trips you are always taking! But, with this piece of info, I know I do. How about if I just go and be your bearer for all the goodies you come home with?
And, I can hardly wait to go to the MIM!!! How fascinating!!!
Thanks for the story.

Jim Sundberg

Hi Fred and Sharon,
What a great way to represent the countries and cultures spread across the globe. Music is both unique and general, a non-linguistic way to communicate so many important stories and feelings that we all share as humans. I look forward to exploring the MIM website.


That is really great. Very informative, the one thing which appears to be common amng all nation is Music culture.


My dear Sherin and Farhad it’s please to you guys are cheering god Bless both.


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