Tuesday, March 5, 2013


PHOENIX, Arizona -- The first thing you need to know about the Musical Instrument Museum is that the name is all wrong.

Yes, it's a museum full of musical instruments -- more than 15,000 of them (about 5,000 of which are on display at any time). It's extraordinary, spectacular, even magical. But, who wants to spend a day at something called the Musical Instrument Museum? So, it should be called The Most Extraordinary, Spectacular, Even Magical Collection and Interactive Display of Ways to Make Music on the Entire Planet (MESEMCIDWMMEP, for short). You would have thought that since the founder used to run Target that he would know a thing or two about marketing. Nope. He should have called me. 

The lady in the gift shop said $250 million was raised for the museum before it was built. That's a lot of passion about music, I'd say.

I could, of course, regurgitate of lot of other facts about the MESEMCIDWMMEP, but you can go to the MIM web site for all of that. What I will tell you instead is that you absolutely shouldn't be put off by the boring name they ended up using (instead of the preferred MESEMCIDWMMEP), and you should plan on spending at least four hours there if you're ever anywhere near Phoenix. Even if the place just had a bunch of musical instruments on display it would be interesting, but this is the MESEMCIDWMMEP, so it's much more. 

For example, you get a little magic box and a set of headphones when you pay your entry fee, and the magic box picks up recorded explanations and demonstrations of the various instruments and collections. My guess is that it would take a full eight hours to really do the museum, I mean MESEMCIDWMMEP, justice.

Besides showing things like how barefoot guys in Indonesia make gongs over hot coals and equally amazing stuff, the MESEMCIDWMMEP has a complete, whacked-out drum set used in concert by Tim Alexander of Primus. I'm not personally a huge Primus fan, but Alexander can flat play, and he has a unique style worth seeing. There's a really old harpsichord, a quadruple bass (stands about 10 feet high or so) and, well, the most extraordinary, spectular, even magical collection and interactive display of ways to make music on the entire planet.

It really is.

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