Photos and information used with
permission of MIM.

The Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix, Arizona completes building construction and anticipates an April 24, 2010 Grand Opening.

The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) has now completed its two year long building project of a world class facility. The new 190,000 sq. foot building on a 20 acre site is located in north Phoenix. The building was designed by award-winning architect Richard Varda and the Phoenix firm of RSP Architects. MIM features a distinctive architecture that evokes the topography of the Southwest, suggests the museums’ international scope, and expresses the universal role of music across all cultures.

The two-story museum 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.     

Grand in scale and scope, the $250 million dollar project is already a significant presence in Phoenix.  An ideal showcase for MIM’s diverse collections (now numbering 12,000+ items) installed on two floors of spacious, light-filled galleries, the new building also will feature classrooms, garden courtyard, performance hall, recording studio, restaurant, café, and gift store.   “The new museum taking shape before us will become a new landmark for Phoenix,” said Bob Ulrich, MIM Founder and Board Chairman.  “Our team has made enormous strides toward creating a museum like no other, where guests will see and hear how people everywhere share their experiences through music.”


Curator Christina Linsenmeyer
holding a very rare Chanot violin

We at Mills Novelty Company are very proud to have been selected as consultants to help with our specialty--- antique mechanical musical instruments.  We look forward to this truly “World Class” organization's future development.  All of us at Mills Novelty Company wish MIM the very best success in this endeavor. We commend the enormous expenditure of both time and money that has brought this museum into existence for the music world and all its visitor’s to enjoy.

The Collection
The instruments in MIM’s collection, representing every country in the world, were selected for fine construction, the reputation of their makers, special provenance, or connections to famous performers.  MIM’s curatorial staff has traveled extensively to collect instruments and artifacts that convey the diversity of cultures and global musical practices.

MIM’s vast collection will be highlighted in its Geo-Galleries that focus on five global regions, as well as in a special Artist Gallery that features noteworthy instruments played by many of the world’s leading musicians.

The United States/Canada gallery will be organized by musical genre.  Guests will experience the diverse array of instruments that shaped the North American music, including the Appalachian dulcimer, sousaphone, ukulele, electric guitar and much more.  Special displays will also highlight iconic American musical instrument manufacturers of old and modern musical traditions including Fender Guitars & Martin Guitars, Steinway Pianos, and automatic musical instruments of bygone eras manufactured by such companies as Mills Novelty Company, Seeburg, Regina, and many others.  Even a working Theremin/Moog display can be found in the North American musical experience!

The Europe gallery will invite guests to explore musical settings as varied as a Renaissance chapel in Munich, a French revolutionary military parade, a late 19th century Catalonian kitchen, and a contemporary Ukrainian wedding procession.  Highlights will include the display of a symphony orchestra (ca. 1850); a special focus display on Adolphe Sax, the Belgian inventor of the saxophone; and a “visible organ” commissioned especially for MIM to show the inner workings of a pipe organ  instrument.

The Latin America and the Caribbean gallery will feature instruments and ensembles from 39 nation-states and territories displayed in three sub-galleries: the Caribbean, South America, and Central America and Mexico.  MIM guests will experience musical examples common to the whole region.  Throughout the gallery, the influence of European colonization and American innovation will be juxtaposed with indigenous instrument like flutes and panpipes.

The Asia & Oceania gallery will feature displays from 50 countries and island groups, displayed in five sub-galleries devoted to the regions of East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Central Asia and the Caucasus.   MIM guests will experience the tradition of the Beijing Opera, Javanese Gamelan Orchestra, a gong workshop, and traditional instruments from such places as New Zealand.

The Africa and Middle East gallery will present musical instruments from 47 sub-Saharan and 21 North African and Middle East nations.  This will include visits to the ancient royal court music of Rwanda and Burundi; Vodun spiritual drums; and an array of instruments from the Republic of Congo, as well as lute-like OUD and mallets, harps, zithers, flutes, and trumpets from the entire region.

Rounding out the special galleries is the MIM Artist Gallery that will highlight world renowned musicians and instruments from John Lennon, Paul Simon, and many others.  Included in the special gallery are displays as diverse as drums from the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the Mechanical Music Gallery.

The Mechanical Music Gallery features automatic roll and book playing instruments, QRS equipment to manufacture music rolls, and MIDI operated self playing instruments both old and new.   Display examples include very early automata, music boxes, and instruments from famous manufacturers such as J.P. Seeburg Company, Wurlitzer, Regina, and of course the Mills Novelty Company!

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Jeff and Johnny Verbeeck of the world famous firm of J. Verbeeck & Son Organ Mfg., St.Job in ‘T Goor (Antwerp), Belgium
shown here installing the enormous self playing DeCap Dance Organ in the Mechanical Music Gallery.


George Collar of the Mills Novelty Company and MIM’s Sandra Keely preparing some of the displays, a Mills Violano (recently restored by Mills Novelty Company/Haughawout Music Company), an Original Seeburg KT Special (with glass front removed), and a famous Regina 27” Dragon Changer Music Box.

As you can see, MIM will present a full schedule of displays and diverse programming. They will conduct live concerts and events featuring world renowned music artists. An adjacent recording studio with cutting-edge equipment will allow MIM to capture live recording of many performances held in its large state of the art theater, also a part of the complex.