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World's First Global Musical Instrument Museum Opens in Phoenix

  04/26/10 18:15, by , Categories: Welcome, Music News , Tags: eric clapton, grand canyon, john lennon, mim, musical instrument museum, phoenix

After a visit to a musical instrument museum in Brussels, Belgium, former Target stores chairman Bob Ulrich had a dream to build a museum dedicated to musical instruments from around the world. That dream became a reality April 24, as a $250 million global musical instrument museum opened its doors in north Phoenix.

The World’s First Global Musical Instrument Museum, or MIM, features more than 12,000 instruments and objects. “There is nothing that really covers the world in music and yet day in and day out what has more impact on people’s lives than music?” Ulrich said. And that concept was incorporated into the Vision for the museum with the statement, “Music is something all humans share, a source of beauty and comfort in our daily lives, a means to give voice to our joy in times of celebration and a powerful force that brings us all together. Music is the lifelong friend that we all have in common.”

The two-story, 190,000 square-foot museum sits on 20 acres north Phoenix at the intersection of Tatum and Mayo Boulevards, just south of Arizona Loop 101, near the Mayo Clinic Hospital.

In addition to the thousands of heirloom and hand-crafted instruments on display, MIM will also present instruments that guests can touch and play, insiders’ views of how instruments work, and workshops that detail the instrument-building process.

The galleries feature advanced wireless technology and high-resolution video screens, enabling museum guests to see instruments, hear their sounds, and observe them being played in their original settings – performances that are often as spectacular as the instruments themselves.

One of the high notes is the special exhibit area.

The Steinway Corp. has loaned the MIM the first Steinway piano, which was built in the kitchen of Henrich Engelhard Steinweg’s home in Seesen, Germany, in 1836. It lacks some of the features of contemporary pianos. It doesn’t have the standard 88 keys and only has two foot pedals instead of three.

MIM’s Artist Gallery features musical instruments linked to world-renowned musicians and music innovators, as well as video of concert footage, photographs, costumes, and other special items.

The actual Steinway piano on which John Lennon wrote the song “Imagine” is on display. Lennon bought the piano on Dec. 15, 1970, soon after the breakup of the Beatles. The piano has toured the world in the name of peace. The piano is encased in plastic, but visitors can get up close. It will be at the Musical Instrument Museum for one year on loan from singer George Michael.

Other instruments on loan include two guitars from Eric Clapton. One is the Fender Stratocaster “Brownie” that Clapton used for the songs “Layla” and “Bell Bottom Blues,” and a Gibson guitar that Clapton played with the band Cream.

George Benson’s Gibson Johnny Smith model guitar and one of many Grammy awards he won for his multi-platinum album Breezin’; one of Paul Simon’s guitars; an oud from Palestinian master musician Simon Shaheen; and “King of the Surf Guitar” Dick Dale’s rare collection of Fender amplifiers, keyboards, and transformers.

The gallery also includes famous instruments, such as one of the enormous drums played at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ulrich said he wants visitors to have fun, enjoy the exotic instruments and appreciate the music. “They can hit a 5-foot gong from Indonesia, they can play an African Samba piano,” he said. He said Phoenix is a good location for the museum because of the climate, the proximity to Los Angeles and other tourist destinations. “It’s a magnet for a variety of reasons for convention and tourism,” Ulrich said. “We’re very interested in attracting international visitors, and it’s only a few hours from the Grand Canyon.”

Spanning the two floors of the museum is an intimate, 299-seat performance theater. Designed with spacious seating and state-of-the-art acoustics, the hall will be a premier venue for performances, films and seminars about musical traditions from around the world. Upon entering the performance theater, low stone walls and a stone-colored maple wood stage greet guests, again evoking the stone of the Arizona canyons. MIM will present a full schedule of diverse programming, including concerts and events featuring renowned world music artists. An adjacent recording studio with cutting-edge equipment will allow MIM to capture live recordings of many of the performances in the theater.

The Grand Opening weekend celebration included a live performance by Grammy-winning folk and bluegrass fiddler, singer, and songwriter Laurie Lewis on Sunday, April 25. Lewis, who was accompanied by longtime collaborator Tom Rozum, has been called “one of the preeminent bluegrass and Americana artists of our time and one of the top five female artists of the last 30 years” by the International Bluegrass Music Association. She has also been featured at the Grand Ole Opry and with Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion.

The two-story museum structure includes 75,000 square feet of gallery space, with a 450-foot-long flowing river-like corridor called “El Rio” that creates the spine of the museum, links the central atrium to the interior galleries, and offers changing views of the space. Wall finishes in Venetian plaster create patterns that evoke geological striations of the Arizona cliffs and canyons and allude to the rhythms of musical composition. The flooring is an Italian porcelain tile laid in a striated pattern and the ceilings feature light coves accented with linear light fixtures that move down the “El Rio.” Diffused daylight illuminates the galleries and public spaces through a ribbon of windows and skylights that will glow and animate the building at night, in an abstract pattern much like piano keys.

In addition to guest services (the admission desk, coat room, museum store, and information desk) and the Artist Gallery, the first floor of MIM also houses an Orientation Gallery that introduces guests to the rich diversity of forms, materials, and usage of instruments around the globe, as well as a conservation lab.

The Target Gallery for Special Exhibitions will host temporary and touring exhibitions such as “American Sabor,” which traces the Latin American influences in North American pop music and is expected open in 2011.

The first floor also features the Experience Gallery, a hands-on space where guests can play many of the types of instruments that they have seen elsewhere in the museum. The Experience Gallery is adjacent to a classroom space that will house special workshops, programs, and activities. MIM will also provide group tours for guests of all ages and field trips for school groups. Other educational programming will include demonstrations and performances by musicians, family-friendly music festivals, and lecture series and classes for lifelong learners.

A dynamic spiral staircase, featuring a unique floor mosaic map of the world created with multi- colored stones from around the world and topped with an oculus skylight, draws guests upstairs.

The second floor is devoted to MIM’s extensive core collections, arranged in five Geo-Galleries that feature soft maple wood flooring and cherry wood doorway portals, hinting at the transition between geographical regions as guests pass through the galleries.

This entry was posted by and is filed under Welcome, Music News. Tags: eric clapton, grand canyon, john lennon, mim, musical instrument museum, phoenix

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