Musical Instrument Museum Conservation Lab

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Musical Instrument Museum Lab, June 4, 2011

The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) Conservation Laboratory currently undertakes conservation and preservation treatments for all objects within the collection and is also responsible for the environmental monitoring and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) procedures at the museum. The Conservation Laboratory is part of the Curatorial and Collections Department.

Background to the Museum[edit | edit source]

MIM opened its doors on April 24, 2010. The museum was founded by Robert J. Ulrich, former CEO and chairman emeritus of Target Corporation. (Nilsen 2010). An avid collector of African art and a world museum enthusiast, Ulrich and his friend Marc Felix originated the idea for MIM after a visit to the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels, Belgium. Their unique vision was to create a museum and collection that afford equal representation to the musical instruments and music of every country in the world. There are other museums of musical instruments across the globe, but the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is unique in that it brings together in one place an expansive collection of instruments from every country. MIM was designed by award‐winning architect Rich Varda, in conjunction with the Minneapolis and Phoenix firm of RSP Architects. MIM’s architecture evokes the topography of the Southwest, and its materials and patterns pay homage to the desert landscape, to the rhythms of musical composition, and to the familiar details common to musical instruments from around the world. Guests are linked to all the galleries through a spacious main corridor, known as “el Rio”. The objects on exhibit in the galleries are nearly all on open display; although some particularly significant objects, as well as some loans, are in vitrines. Guests experience the objects in association with audio/video displays using the Sennheiser guidePORT system in which hidden identifiers are installed at exhibits that cue the audio guides automatically to exactly the right “sound track”. MIM’s collection was assembled by five curators, with consultation from distinguished ethnomusicologists, organologists, and other field experts, under the supervision of MIM president and director Dr. Billie (Bill) R. DeWalt.

MIM is a nonprofit entity currently funded completely from private sources.

Milestones[edit | edit source]

  • Groundbreaking: February 6, 2008
  • Grand Opening: April 24, 2010

Dimensions[edit | edit source]

  • 200,000 square feet, on two floors
  • 80,000 square feet of exhibition space
  • 300-seat Music Theater

History of the Laboratory[edit | edit source]

The first iteration of MIM conservation laboratory was located in part of an office block occupied by Target Financial Services in Chandler, AZ, as the collection grew the second iteration of the laboratory was located in a temporary warehouse space found for the collection in Tempe, AZ, before the museum opened the conservation laboratory was moved for a third time to the purpose built visible laboratory at MIM, Phoenix, AZ. The decision to have a visible laboratory was inspired by the visible paleontology lab at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, MIM’s director Bill DeWalt decided that the Conservation Lab should have a similar large viewing window. Visitors are now invited to “watch as instruments from MIM’s extensive collection are being restored.” (Peters 2012). The laboratory began as a separate department within the museum, and the first Head of Conservation served on the Leadership team. After the museum opened the Conservation Department, along with Curatorial, Registration and Collections, became one of the four departments that made up the ‘Curatorial and Collections Team’ with Manuel Jordán as Chief Curator and Director of Collections as the head of the overall department and serving on the Leadership team. (MIM 2012).

The laboratory is currently supported by Steelcase Inc., and a research fund was established in honor of the conservation lab’s first Head of Conservation; the “Barbara Hamann Conservation Research Fund”. (Peters et al 2010)

Staff History[edit | edit source]

Conservators[edit | edit source]

  • Barbara Hamann (2007 – November 2010) [deceased]
  • Irene Peters (Sept 2008 – Sept 2012)
  • Daniel Cull (May 2009 – January 2013)
  • Meghan McFarlane (September 2009 to March 2010)
  • Ester Echenique (March 2010 to June 2010)

Lab Assistants[edit | edit source]

  • Laura Lee (March 2009 to July 2009)
  • Ashleigh Ferguson (April 2009 to May 2010)
  • Adriana Milinic (April 2009 to August 2012, transferred to Curatorial)
  • Laura Diekema (September 2009 to May 2010, transferred to Events, and then to Exhibits, left MIM January 2013)
  • Robert Gobin (June 2010 - July 2011)
  • Jill Crane (June 2011 - )
  • Steve Hinders (March 2011 - )

Conservation Interns[edit | edit source]

  • Scott Shiromaru (Summer 2011)
  • Edward Quigley (Summer/Fall 2012)

Conservation Volunteers[edit | edit source]

  • Steve Hinders (November 2010 to March 2011)
  • Judah Page (2011)
  • Natalie Riley (2011)
  • Mary Kalman (2012 - )

Facilities[edit | edit source]

The conservation laboratory at MIM is set up to be a treatment laboratory; it therefore has a fairly typical conservation lab set up.

Analytical Equipment[edit | edit source]

  • Olympus SZX10 Microscope
  • Handheld UV light by UVP, model UVL-56
  • Web Camera converted into IR camera
  • Elsec 764

Safety Equipment[edit | edit source]

  • 2x Nederman fume extractors
  • Thermo Scientific Hamilton Safeaire II fume hood
  • Guardian Eyewash station

Pest Eradication Equipment[edit | edit source]

  • Walk-in freezer

Photo-documentation Equipment[edit | edit source]

  • Nikon D700 Camera

References[edit | edit source]

Nilsen, Richard. 2010. Former Target CEO Bob Ulrich Orchestrates Creation of MIM. The Arizona Republic. Apr. 18, 2010 12:00 AM.

Peters, Irene. 2012. ‘Through the Looking Glass: Guest Experience and the Wondrous World of Conservation at the Musical Instrument Museum’. Session: Exhibiting Ourselves: presenting conservation. 40th AIC Annual Meeting, Connecting to Conservation: Outreach and Advocacy. May 8 –11, 2012 Albuquerque Convention Center.

MIM. 2012. Biography: Manuel Jordan, PhD.

Peters, Irene., with contributions from Gretchen Anderson, Laura d'Allesandro, JudeSouthward as well as other colleagues and friends. A Death . Conservation distribution list. Tuesday, December 12, 2010.

Further Reading & Viewing[edit | edit source]

MIM Social Media[edit | edit source]

MIM’s in-house Multimedia Department has produced two videos in the “Focus on Conservation” series. These both detail treatments of materials associated with Elvis Presley.

Articles by Staff[edit | edit source]

  • Barbara Hamann. Creating a Museum from the Ground Up: The Musical Instrument Museum – The Building and Collection. Museum Association of Arizona, 28th Annual Conference June 3rd – 5th, 2010. Sedona, Arizona.
  • Irene Peters. ‘Through the Looking Glass: Guest Experience and the Wondrous World of Conservation at the Musical Instrument Museum’. Session: Exhibiting Ourselves: presenting conservation. 40th AIC Annual Meeting, Connecting to Conservation: Outreach and Advocacy. May 8 –11, 2012 Albuquerque Convention Center
  • Daniel Cull. ‘Restoration, Reality, and Life behind the ‘Velvet Rope’.’ e-conservation magazine. No. 21 (2011) pp. 5-7,

Interviews & Media Appearances[edit | edit source]

MIM: Conservation Lab. KPNX Channel 12 Phoenix, ‘The Valley Dish’. January 26, 2011 (air date: 3.30pm Feb 21, 2011).

External Links[edit | edit source]

Support[edit | edit source]

Financial donations to support conservation work can be sent to:

The Barbara Hamann Conservation Research Fund c/o the Development Office Musical Instrument Museum 4725 Mayo Boulevard Phoenix, AZ 85050