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NAMM’s Museum of Making Music to Celebrate Grand Reopening on June 15

Frank Hammel • News • May 17, 2021

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After several years of planning and a recently completed remodel and transformation of its physical space, NAMM’s Museum of Making Music will celebrate its grand reopening to the public on Tuesday, June 15th. The re-envisioned Carlsbad-based cultural institution will reveal a vibrant, dynamic, and immersive experience across four new galleries. A multimedia-rich approach offers a fresh perspective of the ecosystem of music products, their history, and cultural impact and will inspire visitors to make their own connections to the role of music-making in their lives.

“In the years since our opening, we’ve seen enormous changes in music, society, technology, and, by extension, in the many industries involved with musical instruments and products,” said Carolyn Grant, executive director of the MoMM. “This new musical landscape, coupled with our growing and shifting audiences, made it clear to us that the time had come to modernize the MoMM with new technologies and innovative storytelling. We’re excited to offer a new look at the people and products that bring music to our world.”

As the only museum of its kind in the world, the new MoMM welcomes visitors from near and far on a journey of musical exploration and discovery as told through instruments, artifacts, and multimedia displays featuring video stories, photographs, performance clips, and interviews from the instrument creators, artists, and industry innovators. Across the MoMM’s four new galleries, guests will experience key themes of “Making the Instruments,” “Providing the Instruments,” “Using the Instruments,” and “Beyond the Instruments,” and develop a greater knowledge of how instrument creators and external events have brought us the music we make and enjoy. Grant explains: “Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in each of the galleries through the depth of historical information, as well as make personal discoveries through their emotional and philosophical connections to music.”

The first gallery, “Making the Instruments,” explores how instruments develop and change through time due to emerging technologies, economic and social trends, popular culture, and global migration.  The instruments are presented in product groups and paint a picture of how instrument development, history, culture, and people contribute to the ever-evolving world of music.

The second gallery, “Providing the Instruments,” reveals how instruments have entered and traveled through the marketplace and into our hands throughout a century of ever-shifting musical, economic, and social landscapes. Visitors will experience the inspiring stories of entrepreneurship and perseverance, hear musical samples from the 1900s to today, and discover the impact of pivotal moments in history, changing economic climates, and evolving musical tastes on our ability to access the musical instruments we need.

In the third gallery, “Using the Instruments,” the magic of music takes flight. The gallery features a panoramic multimedia display exploring the theme of music as a journey. Included in the immersive experience are images from iconic rock and roll photographers Henry Diltz, Bob Gruen, Neal Preston, and Ethan Russell, donated by The Morrison Hotel Gallery. The gallery encourages visitors to explore the impact of music-making on one’s own life and to examine the far-reaching effect of pivotal musical moments on the world.

A conclusion area called “Beyond the Instruments,” examines instruments through a broader lens and invites visitors to consider instruments as more than their physical selves: becoming works of art, catalysts for cultural change, sanctuaries of comfort and connection, tools for emotive expression, and much more. Notably, the area includes the Live Electronic Orchestra (LEO), designed by Don Lewis, a catalyst for the development of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) protocol, spearheaded by Ikutaro Kakehashi (Roland Corporation) and Dave Smith (Sequential Circuits).

Upon reopening, the MoMM’s special exhibition area will feature a new display, “A Moment to Reflect.” The limited-time exhibition will center on the intrinsic experience of making music through instruments found throughout nature and in the world-at-large. In addition, it will invite visitors to reflect on the origins of what has today become a robust, global industry of music and sound products.

The MoMM’s hands-on opportunities also underwent a redesign at “Sit & Play” stations throughout the galleries. In the popular Interactive Gallery, visitors will enjoy a suite of instruments for solo exploration and collaborative performances.  Available instruments include a variety of stringed instruments, including a banjo and a guitar from San Diego-based Deering Banjo Co. and Taylor Guitars, respectively, a MOOG Grandmother synthesizer, a Pioneer DJ Station, a harp guitar, a Harpejji K24, a theremin, a Chapman Stick, and much more.

With a focus on the youngest music makers, the Interactive Gallery also includes a dedicated area featuring hand drums, ukuleles, and more to encourage hands-on instrument access, reaffirming you’re never too young to make music. Alongside this, each of the three main galleries will also feature a dedicated STEAM Learning Station. In the future, docent-led student groups can explore the worlds of music and musical instruments through facilitated activities from the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

The new MoMM was made possible with generous gifts from The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, The Arizona Foundation, The County of San Diego, Juniper Networking Solutions, The Morrison Hotel Gallery, Other World Computing, The Parker Foundation, Sweetwater Sound, and ZUZA Marketing Asset Management.  Private family foundations, businesses, and hundreds of individual donors also contributed to bringing the vision of the MoMM to life.  To offer a gift to the redesign campaign, please visit:  https://www.museumofmakingmusic.org/renovation/support

Many local, San Diego-based companies complemented the work of the Museum of Making Music’s and NAMM’s internal staff. These include: Archmony Design; Burger Construction; Giles Woodworks; Reelin’ in the Years Productions; Sonny Portacio Photography; Spark & Anvil; StudioGrafik Design; Tim Whitehouse Photography; and Workhorse Signs + Graphics. Other contributors included Tami Stewart, Exhibit Specialist, a legion of MoMM volunteers, and various artifact donors and lenders, and interactive instrument donors.

The Museum of Making Music first opened to the public in March of 2000 to celebrate the centennial of the National Association of Music Merchants as an industry association and to provide an historical context of making music. Since that time, the MoMM has welcomed visitors from near and far and presents an ongoing vibrant and varied schedule of exhibitions, concerts, and educational programs throughout the year. Prior to the pandemic, the MoMM hosted thousands of school-aged children each year, many from Title I schools, for tours that provided educational enrichment. In 2019, the MoMM established a music program with San Pasqual Academy to provide the school’s foster youth with individualized lessons and opportunities to explore the larger world of music-making and careers in the industry. North Coast Strings and New Horizons Band programs, musical ensembles designed to be an entry point for adults, are also hosted and organized by the museum. The MoMM galas have presented notable names, including Graham Nash and Mavis Staples, and its Live@MoMM concert series brings musical masters from around the globe as well as our backyard to perform in an intimate listening environment.

Beginning Tuesday, June 15, the Museum will be open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Under the direction of state and county health protocols, the MoMM will utilize COVID mitigation strategies and cleaning throughout the museum as well as a ticketed registration system to manage the flow and number of visitors to the new space. Admission to the MoMM is $15; $10 for seniors, students, and active military; and free for Museum Members, NAMM Members, and children age three and under. Additional information is available at https://www.museumofmakingmusic.org/reopening 

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