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March 2023
Vol. 22, No. 6

Featured Stories

Bringing the History of Music Products to Life: The Museum of Making Music Plans a Complete Renovation

by B.J. MorganJuly 2020

The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad.

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The Museum of Making Music recently announced that after several years of planning, the beloved institution will undergo a complete renovation as it continues to serve and grow its audience’s appreciation for and understanding of music products, their history, industry, and related cultural impact. Opened to the public in 2000, this is the first full-scale renovation for the popular Carlsbad-based museum, which welcomes walk-in visitors from near and far and presents an ongoing vibrant and varied schedule of exhibitions, concerts, and educational programs throughout the year for visitors of all ages.

“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, has made it clear to us that the time had come to modernize the MoMM with new technologies and innovative storytelling, reflective of the fresh perspectives of today.”

The renovated MoMM will move away from its current chronological storyline to focus on three key themes, which will be reflected in the gallery names: “Making the Instruments,” “Providing the Instruments,” and “Using the Instruments.” Each gallery will feature displays of instruments and artifacts, signage and imagery to explain and enhance the experience. Digital touchscreens, accompanied by directional speakers, will bring the stories of the past to life through artifact information, performance, and oral history videos, allowing visitors to explore at their own pace. Each of the new galleries will also feature a STEAM Learning Station that will allow student groups to explore the worlds of music and musical instruments through facilitated activities from the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

The first gallery, Making the Instruments, will provide insights into how instruments are made, and explore the drivers of change that have affected musical instrument development, including how changes in technology, economic, and social trends; popular culture; and global migration impact instruments and the music we make and hear. The second gallery, Providing the Instruments, will examine how our access to instruments has evolved in an ever-shifting musical, economic, and social landscape. It will explore inspiring stories of entrepreneurship, perseverance, and creativity in retailing, distribution, and marketing segments and shed light on the interrelationship among pivotal moments in history, changing economic climates, and musical tastes.

After experiencing and learning about the stories behind the instruments, visitors will enter a third gallery, Using the Instruments. Here, the magic of music takes flight and as the space encourages visitors to explore the impact of music-making on one’s own life through both how one listens to and participates in music-making, to examining the far-reaching effect of pivotal musical moments on the world.

Along with the three main galleries, the MoMM’s popular Interactive Gallery will also undergo a redesign. Visitors will enter the expanded gallery to explore and play a suite of instruments at their leisure. The new area will take its inspiration from the recording studio of the past and feature multiple music-making stations that will offer flexibility for solo exploration or collaborative performance. A special section will also encourage young aspiring music makers with hands-on instrument access, reaffirming that you’re never too young to make music. From here, a new entryway will welcome visitors into a special exhibition area that features a frequently changing display and exploration of innovative topics.

The Museum of Making Music opened to the public in March of 2000 to celebrate the centennial of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) as an industry association and to provide a historical context of the ecosystem of making music. Since that time, the Museum has become a destination for visitors from around the world. It hosts nearly 7,000 school-aged children, many from Title I schools, for tours each year to provide 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 such notable names as Graham Nash and Mavis Staples, and its Live@MoMM concert series brings musical masters from around the globe as well as our own backyard to perform in an intimate listening environment. All of this is possible because of the very generous support from individuals, companies, and community organizations. “Without the generous contributions and tireless support of our donors and patrons over the past few years, this project would have remained a dream. Their unfailing love of music and belief in the Museum has turned a vision into an exciting reality,” said Grant.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with preparations underway to make space for the renovation, the museum is closed to the public. The MoMM staff are planning to celebrate its grand public reopening on February 2, 2021. Until then, virtual visitors are welcomed to experience the concept for the new space by visiting

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