Arts & entertainment

Rock the world at Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The National Guitar Museum exhibit highlights past, present and future

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If you read about pop music with any regularity, you’ve probably seen a story that pops up every now and then — one that says guitar-based music is dead. And yet, the instrument and its music never seem like they’re going anywhere.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s latest exhibit, “Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World,” not only explores the history of the instrument, but how innovation and experimentation are keeping it exciting for new generations.

“Guitars are something that connect for so many of us. I remember getting my first guitar and wherever I went, that guitar went with me,” said Jennifer Moss Logan, Denver Museum of Nature & Science educator. “This exhibition speaks to so many people — people have the chance to see incredible instruments from around the world that are as alive today as they were when they first came out.”

The exhibit runs at the museum, 2001 Colorado Blvd. in Denver, through April 17. The traveling show from The National Guitar Museum is included with general admission tickets.

The exhibition features more than 60 instruments and explores the cultural and physical history of the guitar, taking visitors on a journey from medieval instruments like lutes and ouds to the electric guitars that are commonplace today. And guitars haven’t stopped evolving, which means guests will see the innovative ways the instrument is being pushed into the future.

“We have guitars on display that really stretch the imagination, including an eight-necked guitar, the controllers used for Guitar Hero and one that is 3D-printed,” Logan said. “We also have the world’s largest playable guitar (measuring about 43 feet), according to Guinness World Records, for people to try strumming.”

While there is a great amount of interactive fun to be had at the exhibit, that’s not all it offers. Visitors get to dive into the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics (STEAM) concepts behind the instrument, including sound waves, frequency, engineering and more.

“One of the most important things to us in this exhibit is stealth science … which is learning about science without knowing you’re learning about it,” said HP Newquist, executive director of The National Guitar Museum, in a previous interview with DMNS. “With the electric guitar, in order to make sound, you talk about physics, electromagnetism, decibel levels and soundwaves. All these things are inherent in the guitar, but you may not know it when you look at and listen to a guitar. It’s the perfect way to teach about science.”

As is always the case with traveling national exhibits, the museum added a local touch to proceedings. This includes showcasing local guitar legends like Otis Taylor in the exhibit and hosting guitar sessions with Denver-based musicians like Stevie Gunter and Jen Korte.

“We always try to think about who our audience is and how can we make sure these exhibitions that come from other places have a local flavor,” Logan said. “We have an incredible music scene in Denver, one that can represent the best of the guitar and guitar music. People from all different communities love different players, so the instrument can encompass so many scenes.”

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