Touring Exhibit Explores History And Science Of The Guitar

Jan 18, 2013

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

The world's longest playable guitar is part of a touring exhibit on the history and science of the guitar at the Springfield Museums through April 21,2013
Credit Springfield Museums

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