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Touring Exhibit Explores History And Science Of The Guitar

Guitar_exhibit.jpg
Springfield Museums
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A touring exhibition celebrating the world’s most recognizable and influential musical instrument, the guitar, opened today in Springfield Massachusetts.

The exhibit at the Springfield Museums is a mix of art, history, science and pop culture. It shows the evolution of  string instruments from the guitar’s early ancestors,  the first appearance of  the now familiar guitar curve shape in the 1400s ,and the best selling modern designs by American  guitar makers, Martin, Fender and Gibson. 

There are more than 60 instruments on display from the familiar to the rare and odd.  There is the Rickenbacker A-22 Frying Pan, which is acknowledged to be the first electric guitar. There is a guitar from South America that has an armadillo shell as the soundbox. There is a guitar with 8 necks , and one with a carbon-fiber body. There is the world’s largest playable guitar that is more than 43 feet long.

The exhibit, called  “ Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World” is organized by  the National Guitar Museum, which was founded in 2009 by  Harvey Newquist, a former editor of Guitar Magazine.

The museum’s collection has guitars that belonged to Johnny Winter, classical guitarist Liona Boyd and others.

The exhibit in Springfield is divided across two museums.  The George Walter Vincent Smith Art museum has the display of guitars through the ages.  The Springfield Science Museum has interactive exhibits that explain how guitars are built and played to produce sound.  There is performance video, audio, touch screens and photographs.

The National Guitar Museum has no permanent home. The exhibit will be on tour across the United States for the next five years.  The exhibition at the Springfield Museums runs through April 21

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.