One man's dream to build a museum dedicated to musical instruments from around the world just became a reality as a $250 million global musical instrument museum rose out of the Sonoran desert in north Phoenix.
From bagpipes to bongos, the World's First Global Musical Instrument Museum, or MIM, features sax appeal and more than 12,000 instruments and objects collected by the museum.
Former Target stores chairman Bob Ulrich founded the MIM, inspired by a visit to a musical instrument museum in Brussels.
"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. "It really did intrigue me to do something that had not been done before in the world. That's what really made it quite exciting."
ABOUT THE MUSEUM The two-story, 190,000-square-foot museum sits on 20 acres at Tatum Boulevard, south of the Loop 101 near the Mayo Clinic Hospital. The entrance features soft, cream colors, big picture windows that let light in and a grand staircase that creates a symphony hall feel. The windows in the staircase look like piano keys when the building is lighted at night.
There's also a restaurant, gift shop and an auditorium for guest concerts.
WHAT YOU'LL SEE "We've got about 280-some exhibits that relate to every country in the world, relate to some of the famous celebrity and artist instruments that we have," said Bill DeWalt, president and director of the Musical Instrument Museum.
Headsets and video will let visitors see and hear people playing instruments in their traditional costumes and settings.
One of the high notes is the special exhibit area. The actual Steinway piano on which John Lennon wrote the song "Imagine" is on display for a year, courtesy of singer George Michael. Lennon bought the piano on Dec. 15, 1970, soon after the breakup of the Beatles.
Other instruments on loan include two guitars from Eric Clapton and the first Steinway piano made in 1836. A set of drums from the Black Eyed Peas, a surf board from the "King of the Surf Guitar" Dick Dale and guitars from George Benson round out the collection.
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.
Musical Instrument Museum admission costs $15; details at themim.org.