We all love museums, but let’s face it: some deserve their “stuffy” reputations. Not so much in Phoenix! Even the most prestigious institutions have quirky cultural collections from time to time – but it’s the small unsung museums that provide some of the most interesting treasure-hunting trips. Get ready to romp through history, mystery, flames, jalopies and global music on your pursuit of eclectic Phoenix museum outings.
Musical Instrument Museum
It’s hard to fathom 15,000 musical instruments under one roof, especially when they come from across the globe. But that’s what you’ll discover at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. At any given time, at least 6,000 instruments are on display from the overall collection, gathered from about 200 different countries and grouped in five geographical regions.
Highlights of visiting include the free Experience Gallery where visitors can play the instruments and the Conservation Lab for observing preservation and restoration techniques. Be sure to stop by the Artist Gallery to see instruments and awards from the likes of John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton and Maroon Five. Check the schedule for concerts, festivals and themed weekends, and stay for food and drinks at the onsite Café Allegro.
Hall of Flame
This museum turns up the heat with about an acre full of fire history in America. The Hall of Flame Fire Museum displays more than 90 restored pieces of fire apparatus dating from as far back as 1725. You’ll find horse-drawn contraptions, hundreds of fire extinguishers, helmets, alarms, fire marks, fire poles, engines and a 2,000-square-foot fire safety exhibit.
You can also learn about specialty techniques such as wildland firefighting. Be sure to devote some time for honoring fallen firefighters in the inspirational National Firefighters Hall of Fame.
Phoenix Police Museum
After moving to its newest location at Historic City Hall, the Phoenix Police Museum is open to the public at no charge for discovering 130 years of law enforcement in Phoenix. Antique treasures include one of the city’s first 1919 Model T police cars and the first helicopter. You’ll also run into bomb robots and a re-creation of the first jail and marshal’s office, along with a mock prisoner and Marshal Garfias.