The most enduring icon in American history is ready to rock Cincinnati.
September 21, 2018 – January 6, 2019
From its early predecessors in the Nile River Valley and the royal courts of the Renaissance, to dingy dive bars and sold out arenas, the guitar has rocked them all. GUITAR is a full immersive exhibition that explores the instrument’s evolution and history, the science of creating sound with wood and steel and the cultural impact on cultures over the past 5,000 years.
“The guitar is the most enduring icon in American history,” says HP Newquist, founder and executive director of The National GUITAR Museum. “It has been around longer than baseball, basketball, soft drinks and sports cars.” Nearly 100 artifacts, including over 60 instruments, trace the guitar’s evolution and the way cultures and musicians drastically changed the shape and sound of the instrument. Highlights include:
- Nyatiti – Originating in the upper Nile Valley in 3,000 BCE, the nyatiti is one of the first stringed instruments and has changed very little over the centuries.
- Lute – Prominent in the royal courts of the Renaissance, the lute was the instrument of choice at a time when the arts became the focal point for European culture.
- Banjo – Popular among bluegrass musicians, the banjo is believed to have been created by slaves who landed in the Caribbean in the 1600s.
- Ukulele – Still prominent in Hawaii, the ukulele was introduced in 1879 as a four-string instrument from Portugal. Hawaiians embraced the instrument and called it “ukulele,” which translates as “jumping fleas,” referencing the way the fingers jumped along the fretboard.
- Gibson J-200 – The definitive shape of country and western guitars, the Gibson J-200 was first introduced in 1937 in an effort to change the shape and sound of acoustic guitars.
- Fender Stratocaster – First introduced in 1954, the Strat shaped the image of early rock and roll and has become the most popular electric guitar ever.
- Air Guitar – Since the 1970s, the Air Guitar has been the instrument of choice for teens and wannabe rock gods.
- The World’s Largest Guitar – Certified by Guinness World Records, at over 43 feet long and 16 feet wide, this flying V is the world’s largest playable guitar.
GUITAR also explores the science behind sound. Interactives show how strings resonate on wood and how the vibration creates the music we rock out to. Displays demonstrate how the hollow body and soundboard of acoustic guitars enhance the vibrations of the strings and how electric guitars use magnetic coils to capture the vibration and turn it into amplified sound.
The exhibition also features video performances, stunning x-ray images of guitars’ inner workings and even a chance for you to pluck, strum and jam.
GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World is produced by The National GUITAR Museum.