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A must-hear museum

Having already had more than enough snow to last me a lifetime, I decided to take advantage of my newly acquired condition of being (semi-) retired and spend the winter in Phoenix and the surrounding “Valley of the Sun.”  Considering the wrath which Mother Nature directed at most of the rest of the country in January, this turned out to be a very propitious decision. The entire month here featured bright sunshine and daytime temperatures between 65 and 72 degrees!

In addition to finding some part-time work to help out a good friend, Sue Arko of Free Spirit Vacations & Events during her “busy” season, I’m eagerly awaiting the start of “Cactus League” spring training baseball, the games of which are scheduled to begin on February 25 (more about that next month).

Those who have visited Arizona’s largest metropolitan area are likely aware that there is a wealth of sights and activities available to the vacationer here.  However, most probably do not know that one of the area’s most important new man-made attractions is located but a few miles of one of the oldest, not counting ruins left behind by ancestral Puebloan civilizations, of course.

Both are off of Loop 101 in the Northeastern part of the valley: the sparkling new Musical Instrument Museum at Tatum Blvd., and historic Taliesin West, accessible from both the Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. and Cactus Road exits.

These two outstanding sites are “musts” for any groups planning to explore Phoenix and Scottsdale.

The Musical Instrument Museum, or MIM, which opened to the public just last spring, bills itself as “the most extraordinary museum you’ll ever hear.”  In fact, it is somewhat of a surprise to find this attraction in Phoenix, a city which has never been noted as one of the world’s great music capitals. But rest assured that this is truly a world-class facility.

Here the cultures of the world are explored in depth through mankind’s universal language of music, enhanced by fascinating displays showcasing virtually every type of musical instrument imaginable and quite a few that are not.  In fact, the collection contains some 10,000 instruments, only 3,000 of which are on display, grouped regionally from origins around the globe.

In addition to group-friendly food facilities and gift shops, the center also contains the 299-seat MIM Music Theatre, which schedules musical programs as diverse as the world’s peoples themselves.  And where else can you see a 12-foot “Octobass,” which requires a ladder to be played? 

Bob Hoelscher, CTC, CTP, MCC, CTIE, is a longtime travel industry executive who has sold his tour company, bought a motorhome and is traveling the highways and byways of America.  He is a former chairman of NTA, and was a founding member of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP).

Well-known in the industry as both a baseball and symphony aficionado, Bob is also one of the country’s biggest fans of our national parks, both large and small.  He has already visited more than 325 NPS sites and has several dozen yet to see.  He is currently traveling the country to visit as many of those parks as possible.  His blog, “Travels with Bob,” appears periodically on The Group Travel Leader’s blogsite, “Are We There Yet”.

Bob is available for contractual work in the industry and may be reached at or by calling (435) 590-1553.


All photos are of the Musical Instrument Museum