Cool Collections: What the Musical Instrument Museum needs to purchase next

By Niki D’Andrea

There is a new museum slated to open in Phoenix in early 2010, but it’s already kicking up some controversy. The Musical Instrument Museum, under construction at Tatum and Mayo Boulevards, just purchased a collection of rare instruments from California’s Claremont University. The 1200-piece collection includes 19th-century slide trumpets, an oboe by Lehnhold, a curved English horn from the 1760s, and a treble viol by Leandri Bisiach.

Museum director Bill DeWalt was pleased with the purchase (the price has been kept confidential), but according to the Los Angeles Times, some students and faculty at Claremont feel they’re losing an invaluable piece of musical history and culture.

The MIM aims to gives guests “an appreciation for both the musical similarities and unique differences among divergent cultures, countries and ethnicities through state of the art exhibits.” Most of the instruments in the collection are more than 50 years-old and come from more than 200 countries.

While the MIM seems geared more toward antique instruments and a classical/world music perspective, we figure if the museum can drop an undisclosed amount for a collection of instruments from Claremont, then it could probably shell out for a “pop culture/contemporary” instrument exhibit, too. And we’ve built the perfect collection below. For a lump sum of $2,528,000, the Musical Instrument Museum could add the following to its collections (without pissing off any university faculty, even):

Bill Clinton’s saxophone: The saxophone that former United States president Bill Clinton played on The Arsenio Hall show in 1992 sold for $54,000 at the Music Rising Benefit, which was co-founded by U2 guitarist The Edge.

This sax sold for $54K, mainly because Clinton's lips were on it.

Jimi Hendrix’s vintage Epiphone FT79 acoustic guitar: This guitar, which Hendrix used to compose some of his songs, netted $77,000 in an auction by Bonham & Brooks.

Keith Moon’s 1968-1970 Premier Drum Kit: Moon’s champagne silver drum kit was sold for more than $260,000 by Christie’s.

Dick Clark’s American Bandstand microphone: The ageless Clark auctioned off his microphone through Guernsey’s for $33,000.

Bob Dylan’s Hohner Marine Band harmonica: Used (and signed) by Dylan, this mouth harp sold for more than $4,000 through Julien’s Auctions.

Imagine this piano being sold for $2.1 million dollars.

John Lennon’s piano: The piano that Lennon used to write his song “Imagine” was one of the most sought-after auction pieces of the last ten years. George Michael purchased it from auction house Fleetwood Owen for a cool $2.1 million in 2000. Michael subsequently loaned the piano to Virginia Tech after the 2007 shootings at the school to help benefit the families of the victims.

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