Mu­si­cal In­stru­ment Mu­seum,

Pasatiempo - - On­stage This Week -

col­lec­tions. First up is Africa and the Mid­dle East, and De­Walt noted that many cite it as the most ex­tra­or­di­nary part of the whole mu­seum, thanks to ex­trav­a­gantly dec­o­rated in­stru­ments, ex­cep­tion­ally fine video com­po­nents, the pul­sat­ing rhythms of the mu­sic, and the gen­er­ally ex­otic as­pect of it all. (“One week,” he re­called, “we had three African con­sul­tants col­lect­ing in­stru­ments and shoot­ing video in three dif­fer­ent coun­tries, and all three came down with malaria at the same time.”) On to Asia and Ocea­nia (in­clud­ing a re­pro­duc­tion of a Ja­vanese gong-mak­ing shop and a whole sub­sec­tion of dis­plays from China and In­dia), to Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, to the United States and Canada (where, the day of my visit, San­dra Day O’Con­nor seemed ut­terly cap­ti­vated as she swayed to the sounds of an Ap­palachian jug band), and to Europe. Any of these di­vi­sions could be en­tire mu­se­ums in their own right. The MIM col­lec­tion to­day num­bers up­ward of 10,000 in­stru­ments, of which per­haps a third can be dis­played at any time. They range from sim­ple log drums and hum­ble nose flutes to in­stru­ments of as­ton­ish­ing com­plex­ity and even to su­per­star ar­ti­facts, like the first Stein­way pi­ano ever built (in Hen­rich En­gel­hard Stein­weg’s kitchen in Ger­many, in 1836), a drum played at the open­ing of the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics, and gui­tars that be­longed to Paul Si­mon, Eric Clap­ton, and Car­los San­tana.

Down­stairs, the kids go wild in a hands-on gallery — no head­sets, much noise — while the par­ents check out a gallery of me­chan­i­cal in­stru­ments or an­other hous­ing tour­ing shows (cur­rently spot­light­ing the Latin Amer­i­can pres­ence in pop­u­lar mu­sic of the United States), or per­haps sneak a snack at the café or browse the gen­er­ously stocked gift shop. Spend­ing an en­tire day at MIM is easy, and there’s a good chance you might con­tinue into the night with a per­for­mance at the mu­seum’s grace­ful, roomily de­signed, and acous­ti­cally pre­cise 299-seat con­cert hall, where vi­o­lin­ist Joshua Bell and pian­ist Jeremy Denk re­cently recorded a recital CD that will be re­leased shortly by Sony Clas­si­cal. It’s not a day-trip for Santa Feans, of course, since Phoenix is an eighthour drive, but as a long-week­end des­ti­na­tion, MIM should stake a place high on the list of get­aways. New Mex­i­cans are ac­cus­tomed to driv­ing for­ever to get any­where, and an eight-hour com­mute seems not much of an im­po­si­tion to see and hear the world in the most ex­alt­ing cir­cum­stances. You’ll be smil­ing all the way home. The Mu­si­cal In­stru­ment Mu­seum is lo­cated at 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., in Phoenix. For in­for­ma­tion, call 480-478-6000 or check the mu­seum’s web­site, www.theMIM.org.

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