The World’s Only Global Musical Instrument Museum ®


Open Now–Sep. 4, 2017

Dragons and Vines: Inlaid Guitar Masterpieces presents a collection of instruments featuring stunning inlay design created by the greatest contemporary North American inlay artists and luthiers. The exhibition is presented by MIM in partnership with the Maryland-based inlay company Pearl Works, with the majority of the pieces coming from the private collection of Larry Sifel (1948–2006), the company’s founder.

Each of the instruments vividly illustrates the transformation of bold imagination into reality, from snarling dragons to delicate floral patterns as well as re-creations of historic artwork and hot-rod automobiles. Some of the instruments go beyond sheer refinement of the artwork and actually tell the stories of the artists. All of the instruments displayed are of limited edition or one-of-a-kind creations, many of which have never before been on public display.

This special exhibition consists of guitars, banjos, and one ukulele, featuring inlaid artwork created from materials including abalone shell, mother-of-pearl, coral, gold, copper, wood, and others. These materials are manually fitted onto the instruments with diligent precision, transforming each one into a unique masterpiece.




Paul Reed Smith Dragon Guitar, 2002

Pearl Works (inlay), PRS Guitars (maker)
Inspired by the movie Jurassic Park, this dragon design covers 90 percent of the guitar’s body. The deeply carved recurve of the guitar body’s top added complexity to the computer numerical control (CNC) operation and programming, making it one of the most complex inlay projects ever attempted at the time.



Martin D-50 Koa Guitar, 2003

Pearl Works (inlay), C. F. Martin & Co. (maker)
The Martin D-50 displays the tree-of-life motif, a historic vine pattern featured on musical instruments for centuries. When it was created, this D-50 guitar featured the most elaborate inlaid ornamentation available on a Martin production model—made possible by technological innovation developed at Pearl Works.



Martin “Night Dive” OM Guitar, 2004

Pearl Works (inlay), Grit Laskin (inlay design), C. F. Martin & Co. (maker)
The story of inlay art unfolds on an unusual canvas: the neck and headstock of a guitar. The whimsical, graphic style of artist and luthier Grit Laskin is full of personal references for the viewer to discover.



Lindisfarne Gospels Guitar, 2009

Larry Robinson (inlay), Kevin Ryan Guitars (maker)
This exacting replica of a page from a medieval illuminated manuscript took inlay artist Larry Robinson over two years to complete.

And many more!