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Museum of Making Music Gets a Musical Makeover

Reopening is set for Aug. 20.

The is set to reopen its doors Saturday, Aug. 20, with a whole new look and layout. The renovation will give museum-goers a more extensive interactive experience, more instruments to play, and a deeper and broader education on how music is made.

In the museum's 1,100-square-foot space located at 5790 Armada Dr., you'll find five different galleries, each offering a new and different interactive experience. You'll be able to play the acoustic mandolin in one space and an electronic drum set in the next. In the third gallery, you can try your hand at playing the Rickenbacker lap steel guitar, or move on to check out the cherry red Fender telecaster. 

But it's the fifth gallery that has really transformed the museum from its grassroots beginnings. This gallery offers an interactive experience where you can not only play a variety of instruments, but also learn how to play music through a tutorial lesson that teaches musical chords.  Amateur musicians can then play along with other professional musicians, or just jam on their own. Headphones are optional.

According to museum Executive Director Carolyn Grant, "Each instrument represents an important theme in music-making history.  The new thing that people will find is more interactive and better interactive experiences with a larger variety of instruments and an opportunity to learn."

You will also find a "Global Spotlight" interactive display in the main gallery. This display allows music lovers to gain an appreciation of music from around the world, as they click on a geographic area on a huge monitor and then hear and see that country's music being played in both historic and contemporary versions. 

The museum is also expanding its Special Exhibition area, focusing in on a new instrument every six months. These exhibitions will offer a deeper historical understanding of the musical instrument featured—everything from ukeleles to acoustic guitars, including the newest display of reed instruments. 

Grant says that since the museum opened in 2000, it's always had the same goal: "exploring the connections between the person who builds it, the person who uses it, the instrument itself, and then finally the music that is made from that instrument." 

However, the years have taken a toll on the museum's effectiveness, as its technology became outdated and exhibit spaces became stale. But wiith the recent donation of a $500,000 private grant, its mission has come into focus like never before. According to Grant, "It was very kind of random before, and now it's very focused." The look has changed dramatically and the level of depth with interactive exhibits has grown. 

And although the museum is is targeting attendees 10 years or older, there is something for everyone here, including a huge educational program for students. Grant and her staff believe that music is integral to a student's education from a young age. "I feel strongly that too many children feel that if they can't play an instrument, that somehow the world of music is not for them or they don't belong in it, or they're not good enough for it. Our goal is to show them anybody who wants to be around music can be around it." 

And Grant believes it doesn't take much to inspire a child. "They leave enriched at some level," no matter what their age.

Admission prices for the Museum of Making Music are $8 for adults, $5 for kids, seniors, active military and students. The museum is open every day except Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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