Opening on November 10, Acoustic America: Iconic Guitars, Mandolins, and Banjos, the newest special exhibition at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona, presents a once-in-a-lifetime collection of 90 historic stringed instruments played by the heroes of folk, blues, and bluegrass music. These instruments—mandolins, guitars, banjos, ukuleles, and more— have shaped generations of American music since before the Civil War.
Presented in partnership with renowned mandolinist David Grisman and his record label Acoustic Disc, Acoustic America showcases a remarkable collection of instruments that have redefined music not only in the United States but around the world. Notably, more than 30 special instruments from the personal collection of David Grisman are on public display including a complete quartet of Lloyd Loar-signed instruments and Grisman’s iconic Gibson F-5 “Fern” mandolin.
Guests will see unique details on authentic instruments including bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs’s gold-plated 1928 Gibson banjo, blues legend Mississippi John Hurt’s stunning 1964 Guild guitar, a historic Martin D-28 guitar played by folk icon Elizabeth Cotten, and Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary’s 12-fret dreadnought acoustic guitar. Additional highlights include Freddie Green’s El Dorado archtop guitar, John Hartford’s A.A. Farland open-back banjo, Lloyd Loar’s personal 1924 F-5 mandolin, Country music icon Ira Louvin’s customized 1947 C. F. Martin mandolin, and more.
“These are instruments that have changed so many lives of artists and audiences alike,” says MIM senior curator Rich Walter. “Each one has a unique story and personality, but together they remind us of the shared connections within America’s most influential music.”
Acoustic America illustrates the overlapping histories of exceptional soloists and songwriters, groundbreaking manufacturers, and novel inventions, illuminating how diverse origins combine into enduring traditions. Learn more at MIM.org.