Take a Look Inside – The NAMM Museum of Making Music Reopens After Renovation Project

Expanded exhibits invite visitors to get hands-on with instruments and learn about the music products industry

By Jessica A. Baris | April 16, 2024

After a two-month-long renovation, NAMM's Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA, reopens its doors to welcome back the public. The museum is the only one of its kind to tell the story of the people and businesses behind the innovation of musical instruments and other music products. The renovation offers visitors an expanded learning experience, including more interactive instrument play and spotlight exhibits showing how music products are delivered to music enthusiasts around the world. Starting April 15, these are some of the new features museum goers can expect to see.

Expanded Interactive Rooms

According to museum staff, the most popular part of the museum has been the interactive area, where visitors can pick up real instruments and play them. But the staff noticed that it was a small space for the amount of activity it was getting, and there were two distinct groups of visitors trying to use the space for a musical experience.

“Little kids and families want to get hands-on and play different instruments, and adults want to pick up a guitar and jam,” says the museum’s executive director, Carolyn Grant. Wanting to serve these audiences with a better interactive experience was “the impetus” behind the renovation.

kids in the interactive room
The "Center Stage" room at the Museum of Making Music provides kids and teens with instruments for hands-on play time.

Thanks to a grant from the Kenneth T. Norris and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, the museum now features two interactive rooms.  “Center Stage,” which caters to teens and children, provides ukuleles, guitars, drums, a floor piano and other instruments for hands-on play time. A live mixing station offers kids a first experience of combining different instruments and lighting for an on-stage band. Moldover, a musician and inventor who helped design the station, says it’s a fun and easy way for kids to get an idea for what technology is used to make a live performance come together.

“A lot of people admire and revere musicians on stage, but there’s all kinds of technical people behind the scenes that make that stuff happen. And some of that is really fun,” says Moldover.

kid at mixing station
A child interacts with the museum's new mixing station.

“Center Stage” welcomes visitors with a grand entryway in the shape of an acoustic guitar. Martin Zapata of Zamar Cabinets says the carpentry work on the doorframe was the biggest challenge. “We had a lot of hand sanding on it,” he says. “Each project is a challenge … What I enjoy more is what the people see, and they enjoy it.”

“Backstage Lounge” is the interactive experience designed for adults. It includes acoustic guitars, an electric guitar wall, wireless headphones and amps, a harp, high-end percussion and a piano. The seating area invites adults to kick back, jam and discover the joy of playing instruments. 

B.J. Morgan, marketing manager for the museum, says that he likes seeing how visitors begin to connect with each other through something they might not have experienced before. “People may feel that music making isn’t accessible to them,” he says, “but when we make it inviting to sit down and pick up an instrument, it opens them up to the opportunity to play it and let them know it is really accessible.”

adults jam in the interactive room
Adults jam on guitars and the piano in the "Backstage Lounge" interactive room.

Spotlight Exhibits

New musical instruments and equipment are launched every year, but members of the public may not know the full story of what it takes to bring an innovation to the market. Visitors are invited to peer inside the process through the “Global Media Day” exhibit, which includes some of the latest products launched by NAMM member companies at The NAMM Show, a trade show held annually for businesses in the music products industry. A Deering banjo, a Martin guitar and a Blackstar amp are just a few of the pieces on display.

Best in Show exhibit
The NAMM U "Best in Show" spotlight exhibit displays some of the most exciting music products in the industry.

Two Gator cases, a Stylophone Theremin, a Yamaha sequencer, a KraftGeek music stand and an Eastman five-string violin can be found in the NAMM U “Best in Show” exhibit. These products were handpicked by gear experts at The NAMM Show, and now museum visitors have the chance to see what sorts of products create excitement across the industry.

After learning about how new products are brought to the market, visitors can explore how those products end up in retail stores. The Top 100 Dealer Awards exhibit celebrates the music stores that deliver the latest gear into the hands of people in communities all around the world.

“It’s the only museum that reveals the inner workings of this industry, the vibrancy of it and the diversity of it,” says Grant.  “No one else can tell this story. And we’re proud to tell it on behalf of NAMM members.”

Support Music Making for All Ages

One of the core beliefs of the Museum of Making Music is that music and music making are essential parts of the full human experience. You can support the museum’s efforts to connect more people to music by becoming a donor today. The museum is a program division of The NAMM Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that celebrates and promotes the value of music education. Learn more about the museum and other foundation programs.