The Musical Instrument Museum
MIM began with a vision to create a musical instrument museum that would be truly global. Realizing most musical museums featured historic, primarily Western classical instruments, MIM’s founder Bob Ulrich (then CEO of Target Corporation) was inspired to develop a new kind of museum that would focus on the kind of instruments played every day by people worldwide. A focus on the guest experience shaped every aspect of the museum’s development. From the beginning, our goal has been to deliver a musical experience that is enriching, inspiring, interesting, and fun. Today, MIM has a collection of more than 8,000 instruments from more than 200 world countries. The galleries reflect the rich diversity and history of many world cultures. But music and instruments also show us what we have in common—a thought powerfully expressed in our motto, music is the language of the soul.
MIM’s immersive exhibits foster an appreciation of diverse cultures and the craftsmanship and traditions of instrument makers from the past to the present. A visit to MIM is also about experiencing the sensory nature of music and how it affects our emotions. Through state-of-the-art, interactive media, guests can see the instruments, hear their sounds, and observe them being played in their original contexts. The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is located in Phoenix, Arizona. Opened in April 2010, it is the largest museum of its type in the world. The collection of over 15,000 musical instruments and associated objects includes examples from nearly 200 countries and territories, representing every inhabited continent. Some larger countries such as the United States, Mexico, India, China, and Brazil have multiple displays with subsections for different types of ethnic, folk, and tribal music. The Museum was founded by Robert J. Ulrich, former CEO and chairman of Target Corporation. A collector of African art and a world museum enthusiast, Ulrich and his friend Marc Felix originated the idea after a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels, Belgium. The design of the museum benefited as well from the consultation of the Musée de la Musique in Paris modernised in 1997.
The contemporary building covers approximately 200,000 square-feet, with two floors of galleries. The museum was built at a cost of over US$250 million. The exhibit for each country features a flat-screen high-resolution video showing local musicians performing on native instruments. Visitors can listen to the performances through a wireless device with headphones that is activated automatically when an exhibit is being observed. The facility contains a 299-seat theater for concerts, which are held primarily after regular hours. Joshua Bell recorded his album “French Impressions” in the theater in 2011. There is also a cafe with both indoor and outdoor seating.