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MIM Exhibit – The Electric Guitar: Inventing an American Icon

The Electric Guitar: Inventing an American Icon

This new exhibit at MIM shares the untold story of the invention of the electric guitar, an instrument that revolutionized music and popular culture forever.

This exclusive exhibition showcases more than eighty of the rarest electric guitars and amplifiers in the world―from some of the first ever heard to those played by the most famous electric guitarists known today. Decades before rock and roll, these instruments jolted, energized, and even confused the eardrums of the nation. The Electric Guitar: Inventing an American Icon encompasses the history of the electric guitar from the very beginning, including its most experimental period of the 1930s and 1940s, and gives a glimpse into the instrument’s influence on genres that defined American music.

This early history of electric amplification celebrates the bold inventors, adventurous performers, and radical instruments responsible for making sounds that, literally, had never been heard before. The exhibition’s remarkable collection features the personal instruments of groundbreaking artists who were among the first to play and popularize the electric guitar, such as Alvino Rey, Charlie Christian, Les Paul, Bo Diddley, and Eldon Shamblin, as well as authentic guitars played by next generations of influential musicians, such as Pete Townshend of the Who and Ron Wood and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

The electric guitar plays an integral role in American music and culture and inspired emulation worldwide. Original video production featuring on-camera demonstrations of some of these historic instruments and interviews with Grammy Award–winning jazz guitarist George Benson, guitar historians and collectors, friends and family of the pioneers of the electric guitar, and more will help bring this innovative period of music to life as guests become immersed in this story.

The Electric Guitar: Inventing an American Icon will be open November 9, 2018, to September 15, 2019 at MIM’s Target Gallery.

Special Exhibition Admission
$7 with paid museum admission
$10 special exhibition only

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