When you think of a guitar, do you picture one that's 3D-printed, connected to a harp, or one with eight necks? How about one that's over 40 feet long? If none of those come to mind, you need to think outside of the hourglass-shaped box—and then you need to visit the Cincinnati Museum Center to see their latest exhibit that's all about the instrument.
It’s hard to believe the guitar has been played for over 5,000 years. For reference, that’s like listening to Free Bird twice in a row. GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World displays more than 100 artifacts and 60 instruments with unique designs, origins, and advantages that distinguish them all from the next. Elizabeth Pierce, the museum’s President and CEO, describes it as “an exhibition about storytelling.” She says, “The songs and sounds that guitars anchor are snapshots of cultures overtime.”
One of the earliest stringed instruments can be traced back to as early as 3000 B.C. The Nyatiti, a five to eight-stringed instrument, came from the upper Nile Valley and has barely changed over the generations. The guitar itself, however, has changed so frequently throughout history that it requires a museum exhibit to keep up.
“Look at the evolution of the instrument; it never rests,” says the chair of the guitar department at the Yale School of Music, Ben Verdery. Artists are always trying to adapt them to achieve the specific sound they’re trying to create (like the 12-string guitar for example).
“What you’ll see in this exhibit are guitars that represent every genre of music…from old classical-style music, to modern, heavy metal music, and everything in between,” says Harvey Newquist, the Director of the National Guitar Museum that travels from city to city. Music fans of all kinds will have something to appreciate in his exclusive collection.
And if you find the need to express your inner rock god while walking around the guitar gallery, there are entertaining stations where you can “strut your stuff,” so to speak. This includes a 43.5-foot-long guitar that Guinness Book of World Records certifies as the world’s largest playable guitar. There are also plenty of other interactive kiosks to learn about the science and sound waves required to generate the guitar’s signature sound.
Exploring this exhibit, you'll discover how one instrument has toured throughout history, leaving its mark on cultures over thousands of years while continuing to do so today. But we’re not just blowing smoke (on the water). Come see why GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World is so instrumental in shaping civilizations all over the globe.
Adult member: $7
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The Cincinnati Museum Center is located at 1301 Western Avenue (45203). GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World is open through January 6th.