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Visit the Museum of Making Music for Hands-on Fun

Museum of Making Music Carlsbad

Music is one of those rare things that everyone can relate to in some way. Because people prefer different genres, instruments and so forth, music is also a very a personal experience. The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad does an excellent job of addressing interests of virtually every age and level of enthusiasm. Whether you want to channel your inner Jimi Hendrix by wailing on an electric guitar or simply admire the evolution of the clarinet, make this popular museum a stop.

The Museum of Making Music’s History

Founded in 1998 by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the museum was designed to showcase a variety of vintage and current instruments while demonstrating how music has progressed throughout the years. Interactive exhibits as well as audio and video clips customize the experience for each guest.

Touring The Museum of Making Music

The museum is on the smaller side so its circular design provides easy navigation. Music enthusiasts should probably allocate a half-day whereas an hour or two with young children is about right. The five main galleries are broken down chronologically, featuring music, instruments and important people of each era described below.

1890-1909: Enter through the gift shop into gallery one, which exhibits the growth of music as immigrants arrived into the United States and higher wages became the norm. Pianos were big business and started appearing in homes throughout the United States.

1910-1929: The music industry boomed and phonograph makers had a tough time meeting demand for these in-home record players. Silent movies meant a need for theater organs until talking movies became popular. Patriotic music kept morale high during World War I, but then the stock market crash in 1929 erased smiles as well as bank balances.

The Great Depression and World War II: Though people stopped spending money on music, they were still listening to it on radios. Instruments continued to evolve, including the introduction of Gibson’s first electric guitar in 1936.

The 1950s and 1960s: Blame it on Elvis and the Beatles but the explosion of rock and roll music is most notable during this period. People started garage bands while electric guitars grew in popularity.

The 1970s and 1980s: Despite the recession, at-home organs became common. Musicians prospered via heavily-marketed concert tours and promotional swag. Remember the walkman and boombox? They helped spur growth during this time period, too.

Play Instruments in the Innovation Studio

Wind through the galleries to the Innovation Studio toward the end of the museum. This hands-on spot is where kids will no doubt want to spend the bulk of their visit.

Museum of Making Music

Spare fellow guests by listening to your sounds through headphones or be daring and play out loud. Guitars, drums, pianos and other exotic instruments are available for anyone to try here and throughout the museum. For anyone considering learning how to play a musical instrument, this room is a valuable resource because it allows for plenty of fun experimentation.

Special exhibits, ranging from 1 month to 1 year in length, go on display in the room following the Innovation Studio. The current exhibit is dedicated to harps, where there are three out for guests to play and enormous, ornately-decorated harps behind glass.

Special Events and Tours

Enthusiastic docents share a wealth of knowledge. Special tours for Girl and Boy Scout troops and schools are available as well as a number of adult programs and concerts. The museum also allows music teachers use of performance space for recitals. Check the online calendar for special events and summer camps for kids.

Museum of Making Music

  • Address: 5790 Armada Drive Carlsbad, CA 92008
  • Phone: (877) 551-9976
  • Hours: Tuesday- Sunday, 10AM – 5PM
  • General Admission: $10
  • Seniors (age 60+): $7
  • Youth (age 4 – 18): $7
  • Students (with ID): $7
  • Active Military (with ID): $7 (Free from Memorial Day through Labor Day)
  • Children age 3 & under: Free
  • Museum Members: Free
  • Website:

Katie Dillon: Katie writes La Jolla Mom, a lifestyle site focused on parenting, luxury travel, cooking with kids, home management, and local happenings. When not traveling, she lives in the seaside community of La Jolla, CA with her 7-year-old fashionista, dog, and husband.