Historic and iconic instruments at MIM’s special exhibition



Rediscover Treasures: Legendary Musical Instruments opens November 11


This fall, some of the rarest instruments of their kind will join the Musical Instrument Museum’s special Treasures: Legendary Musical Instruments exhibition – which includes pieces ranging from antique flutes to priceless instruments owned and played by musical icons like Prince and Eric Clapton. .

Since the exhibit opened in November 2021, more than 51,500 guests have explored the exhibit, which celebrates the power of music across 6,000 years of history, according to a press release.

MIM has announced that the exhibit will reopen on November 11 as Rediscovering Treasures: Legendary Musical Instruments, and will feature 28 new acquisitions and loans of historical significance for guests to explore alongside exhibit favorites like the Erard grand piano, the violin and the viola Amati, the ancient Mesopotamian. lyre fragments and Jimi Hendrix’s Black Widow electric guitar.

Historical instruments featured in Rediscover Treasures include:

• Hochbrucker pedal harp, Germany, c. 1720.

The ingenious design of Jacob Hochbrucker’s pedal harp represents a revolutionary step in the history of the harp. Single-action pedal harps would become one of the most popular instruments in the mid-18th century, especially among the French aristocracy, including Marie Antoinette. Today, only four known original Hochbrucker pedal harps remain.

• Hitoyogiri of Emperor Go-Daigo, Japan, early 14th century.

This extraordinary Japanese instrument is one of two known extant hitoyogiri flutes owned and cherished by Japanese Emperor Go-Daigo (1288-1339). The body is profusely decorated with multiple layers of lacquer and gold powder and features elaborate dragon and cloud designs.

Loan courtesy of the Takao Oikawa family

• Crystal flute by Claude Laurent, France, 1809.

A watchmaker and mechanic by trade, Laurent was a musician at heart, which led him to develop innovative glass flutes in 1806. Insensitive to temperature and humidity, these revolutionary “crystal flutes” were stable, homogeneous and well-tuned instruments.

• “The First Ukulele”, Hawaii, c. 1879.

Probably made by Portuguese immigrant Jose do Espirito Santo, this instrument is considered the first Hawaiian-made ukulele. Despite its delicate construction and small size, this ukulele remains in playable condition and produces remarkable volume.

Loan courtesy of Shawn Yacavone at Ukulele Friend

Rediscover Treasures will also include iconic celebrity-owned instruments, including:

• Prince’s purple Yamaha grand piano.

This purple Yamaha grand piano with the word “magnificent” written in metallic gold was used on Prince’s Jam of the Year tour from 1997 to 1998 following the release of his triple album Emancipation. The artist danced to the piano during live performances, as seen in the “Somebody’s Somebody” music video.

Prince’s green stage wardrobe is also on display in the same music video, along with a custom Lākland ‘Black Power’ bass. Bassist Rhonda Smith commissioned this instrument and gifted it to Prince in the late 90s.

Loans courtesy of The Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson and Paisley Park

• “Brownie”, Eric Clapton’s 1956 Fender Stratocaster.

This two-tone sunburst electric guitar was Clapton’s first Strat, and it became a key part of the guitarist’s signature sound. Purchased by Clapton from a London music store in 1967, the guitar can be heard on Clapton’s early solo classics, such as “Layla” and “Bell Bottom Blues”.

Courtesy of Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, WA

• Gibson Flying V electric guitar from 1958.

Created to rival popular guitars like the Fender Stratocaster, the modernist Flying V was initially so controversial that only 81 examples were shipped in 1958, making originals incredibly rare. This particular Flying V has been played by many world class guitarists including Joe Bonamassa, Eric Johnson and Jack Pearson.

Anonymous loan

• Lionel Hampton’s Deagan vibraphone, c. 1935.

This one-of-a-kind gold “King George” model vibraphone was custom made for Lionel Hampton and remains the only example built to the Deagan company’s most luxurious trim level. Known as the “King of the Vibes”, Hampton played on recordings by Louis Armstrong and others, and he effectively introduced the vibraphone to jazz music.

• Trumpet of Dizzy Gillespie’s Martin Committee.

Considered one of the most iconic trumpeters of all time, Gillespie played an equally iconic trumpet with a distinctive slanted bell. The trumpet on display is one of Gillespie’s personal instruments; Built in 1962, it features gold plating, custom engraving and its signature sterling silver reversed bell.

Loan courtesy of Joey DeFrancesco

Throughout the exhibition, original video content unveils the stories of these instruments and the traditions they represent with performances and interviews with notable museum curators and musicians.

For more information on MIM’s ongoing special exhibit, visit MIM.org.


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Eric Clapton,

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