The guitar is the single most enduring icon in American history.
Not baseball, not football, not hamburgers, not soda, not sports cars . . . the guitar. Yet there is no museum in the world dedicated to the history, evolution, and cultural impact of the guitar. There is a barbecue museum, there is a barbwire museum, there is a ventriloquist dummy museum, and even a teacup museum . . . but there is no single museum dedicated to the world’s most popular instrument.
The guitar is about more than just popular music. The guitar is an integral part of American history. The first guitars were brought here by the Spanish in the late 1500s, and the English brought their own versions on the boats that followed the Mayflower. It has been part of our heritage for longer than almost any other cultural icon. Every year, there are over 3 new million guitars sold in United States alone. That”s more than all other instruments combined.
The National GUITAR Museum was founded to promote and preserve the legacy of the guitar. It is the world”s first museum dedicated to the history, science, evolution, and cultural impact of the guitar.
The NGM launched a Touring Exhibition entitled “GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World” that began with previews outside NYC in February 2011. The national rollout was in Orlando on June 11, 2011. The exhibit is now booked at sites across the country for the next several years. At the completion of the tour, one U.S. city will be chosen to become the permanent home of The National GUITAR Museum.
Where can I see the museum and its collection?
The best way to see the NGM is to visit one of the museums that is hosting our exhibitions. You can see the current schedules under the EXHIBITIONS heading on this website.
How do you choose which cities get to present your exhibits?
The NGM doesn’t choose individual cities. Rather, we are approached by museums around the country to present our exhibits within their galleries or presentation spaces. We work with those museums to bring our exhibits to each city.
You’ve been to some states twice, but never to my state. How come?
We’ve been in contact with museums in every state in the U.S. and our plan is to exhibit at some place in every state in the nation. In some cases, we are waiting for our schedules to coincide with specific museums. In other cases, we are waiting to hear from various states as to whether they are interested in hosting us. If you have a museum in your city that you think would be a great place for us to exhibit, let them know about us.
What kind of guitars are in the collection?
The NGM began with a “wishlist” of nearly 270 different instruments that we believe are representative of the history, evolution, design, and construction of the guitar. These ranged from the medieval theorbo (a six foot long relative to the guitar) on to modern instruments made from acrylic and carbon fiber. In between, we have collected individual examples of iconic instruments–such as the Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul–that best represent specific models.
How many guitars are on display at each museum?
“GUITAR: The Exhibit That Rocked The World” travels with nearly a hundred guitars, of which about 80 are on display, both in display cases and as part of interactives and learning exhibits. When we partner with art museums to curate our collection, in a presentation we call “Medieval To Metal: The Art & Evolution Of The GUITAR,” we present 40 specifically selected instruments that center on the art of the guitar and its design.
Where is the actual National GUITAR Museum located? Can I come see your guitars there?
The NGM’s primary mission right now is to present parts of our collection to the public and create an awareness of our efforts. While we have offices and collection storage just outside of New York City, these do not house any guitars for presentation. Until 2019, the only way to see the collection is to visit the museums that are presenting our exhibits.
Will there ever be a permanent home for the NGM that is open to the public?
Since its founding in 2009, the ultimate goal of the NGM has been to establish the world’s first permanent museum dedicated to the history, science, design, and cultural impact of the guitar. We are currently planning to select a city for this museum in 2020.
Have you picked a city for opening the permanent museum?
We have not. One of the reasons for travelling from city to city with the collection is to determine which locations might provide the best home for our museum when the time comes to build a bricks-and-mortar building. Every city we’ve been to has offered something unique, and we’ll be reviewing them all in the months to come.
I have a guitar I think is worth a lot. Can you verify its age for me?
The NGM doesn’t do appraisals or analysis of individual guitars not in our collection. There are some very good online sources for getting this information, including Elderly Instruments and Carter Vintage Guitars.