MIM displays more than 7,000 instruments collected from around 200 of the world’s countries and territories. Most displays are enhanced by state-of-the-art audio and video technologies that allow guests to see the instruments, hear their sounds, and observe them being played in their original contexts—performances that are often as spectacular as the instruments themselves. What’s more, all guests are invited to play instruments from around the world in the Experience Gallery. They can also see instruments from music icons such as Elvis Presley®, Johnny Cash, Pablo Casals, Buddy Rich, “King” Sunny Adé, Clara Rockmore, Maroon 5, and many more in the Artist Gallery.
Guests are introduced to MIM through the Orientation Gallery on the first floor, which showcases the artistry, diversity, and movement of musical instruments from around the world. On the second floor, guests can venture into different regions of the world to discover the complete orchestra of a Chinese opera, a big-band jazz ensemble, or all the instruments of a mariachi band, among other things. To view a map of the building, click here.
Wireless “hot spots” around MIM provide loops of streamed music, immersing guests in the sounds of musical instruments. Guests are given wireless headsets to wear throughout the museum. As they approach each display, they will hear music and see the instruments being played on high-resolution flat screens. The wireless audio system is user-friendly for guests of all ages.
MIM’s collection includes more than 13,600 musical instruments and associated objects, approximately 6,800 of which are displayed at a time and includes instruments from around two hundred countries and territories in the world. Some larger countries have multiple displays with subsections for different types of ethnic, folk, and tribal music. The instruments have both historic and artistic merit and MIM’s goal is to acquire instruments that have been used for folk and tribal occasions wherever possible.