Acoustic guitar exhibit at Musical Instrument Museum

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The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) opened its newest special exhibition, “Acoustic America: Iconic Guitars, Mandolins, and Banjos” on Nov. 10.

The exhibition strings together instruments, artists, and stories from folk, blues, bluegrass, and more acoustic music traditions of the United States. For the first time, more than 30 special instruments from the personal collection of mandolin virtuoso David Grisman are on public display, including his 1925 Gibson “Fern” F-5 mandolin.

Additional highlights include a banjo owned and played by bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs, Mississippi John Hurt’s 1964 Guild F-30 guitar, and the vintage Martin D-28 acoustic guitar that Elizabeth Cotten used to record her classic song “Freight Train.” The acoustic guitar from Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary is also on display.

Together, these instruments represent a sweeping soundtrack of American culture. Rich Walter, senior curator at the MIM, joined Arizona Horizon to discuss the exhibition.

“Acoustic America is about bluegrass, blues and folk music,” Walter said. “All of these pillars of music have been made and played on acoustic string instruments for many, many generations.”

Walter explained that the instruments in the MIM exhibit may look familiar, but each one has its own individual story. Many of the stories involve Grisman, who has been playing for more than 60 years.

“Along the way, he’s been a really tremendous collector of instruments,” Walter said. “His personal collection has some real gems, and we were fortunate to work with David to have over 30 instruments from his personal collection.”

To purchase tickets to the MIM and visit the Acoustic America exhibit, click here.

Rich Walter, Senior Curator, Musical Instrument Museum

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