Museum of Making Music Announces Major Renovation Part I

Elizabeth Dale

The NAMM Foundation’s Museum of Making Music (MoMM) resides on the ground floor of NAMM headquarters in a burgeoning and accessible corner of Carlsbad, California. With sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, visitors are excited to discover this unique treasure of the not-so-sleepy beach town. Founded in 1998, the Museum opened its doors to the public in March 2000 and is in the beginning stages of the first major renovation project since its inception.

Originally designed to capture the spirit of NAMM’s century of service (1901-2001), MoMM laid out storylines geared towards industry members, fostering a sense of pride and nostalgia in the global industry that the organization represents. After two years of operation, and with increasing interest from the community and local leaders, the doors were opened to the general public. Since then, MoMM has become a significant cultural destination in Southern California with annual attendance growing to over 45,000. MoMM, as it was before the closure brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, consisted of chronologically arranged galleries that began in the 1890s and continued to tell the story of the industry through the 1990s and featured three main subthemes including popular music, retail, and innovations.

  • MoMM Gallery
  • MoMM BoD
  • MoMM Volunteers
  • MoMM Grand Opening

As the mission and audience for the Museum evolved, so did its outreach, programming, and service to the community.  Yet the exhibitions remained largely the same. When patrons from outside the music products industry visited the galleries, they often left with a newly piqued interest and found themselves craving more information. The Museum worked to enhance the connection between its content and public audience with a 2010 grant that allowed for the addition of a number of displays aimed to clarify the industry’s initiatives and achievements, as well as interactive design updates that fostered an active and engaging visitor experience. Word spread quickly after the 2010 changes, and attendance rose significantly, prompting the team at the Museum to explore the idea of a full renovation to refresh, deepen and reorganize the storyline for their broadening audiences.

MoMM Renovation

We sat down with Carolyn Grant, executive director for MoMM since 2001, and talked about the history of the Museum and the planned renovation.

Carolyn Grant

Why is MoMM such as important institution for both NAMM Members and the community?

For NAMM Members, the Museum places the industry in a much broader context, highlighting how Member companies have responded to incredibly difficult challenges and made massive impacts on society in the process. In addition, the Museum preserves, celebrates, and shares the history and spirit of the people who built the industry. MoMM shares the story of our industry with the public and, in doing so, helps the public see that without the industry, our world would be drastically less musical, less sonically diverse, and certainly less joyous. The oral histories, video clips, artifacts, and interactive components included in the renovation provide an opportunity for the story of NAMM to be presented in a unique, intimate, and passionate manner, making the Museum the only one of its kind telling this story. As a bonus, NAMM Members and their families can take advantage of free admission to the Museum every day we are open.

For the community, MoMM satisfies curiosity, provides a wealth of knowledge, and inspires visitors to discover, explore, or resume their musical abilities. Those who walk through our doors are invited to pick up and play an instrument, learn about innovations and marketing techniques, or experience the joy of seeing their children light up as they discover music. We invite all members of our community to step into the collective world of making music and to find their own place within it.

What information do you wish NAMM Members, educators, and the public knew about the Museum?

NAMM Members: Above all else, your work matters to people inside and outside of the industry, and the staff and dedicated volunteers at MoMM are proud to showcase it. Behind the glamour, the lights, and the popular entertainers stand a network of passionate innovators, marketing professionals, and instrument retailers, all of whom make the industry thrive.

Educators: We have an engaging tour program for students of all ages. And, through our subsidized Title I tour program, students who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to play an instrument are introduced to the world of music. We have the opportunity to present different styles, trends, and musical fashions that gave birth to the music they listen to today, all while providing opportunities to engage. Whether you have brought your class for a visit in the past, or are looking for a new educational adventure, the newly renovated Museum will provide thought-provoking portals into the world of music-making.  And newly designed Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) based learning stations featured in three of the Museum’s galleries will meet various grade-appropriate curriculum-based standards.

Public: We are designed for visitors with a wide range of interests – from those with a passing curiosity about music and related industries to those with a searing passion for everything instrument and music-related. All are welcome, from the music appreciator to the novice musician, to the professional. We offer a multitude of exciting learning experiences for everyone both in the galleries and through our robust programming.

In our next MoMM Renovation Playback piece, we will share the new concepts, galleries, and vision for the future.

The Museum of Making Music plans to reopen in early 2021. For more information on the renovation, please visit