The untold story of the invention of the electric guitar

November 9, 2018–September 15, 2019

MIM’s special exhibition The Electric Guitar: Inventing an American Icon showcases more than 80 of the rarest electric guitars and amplifiers in the world―from some of the first ever heard to those played by the most famous electric guitarists known today. Decades before rock and roll, these instruments jolted, energized, and even confused the eardrums of the nation.

Exhibition Trailer

Explore an instrument that revolutionized music and popular culture.

The exhibition’s remarkable collection features the personal instruments of groundbreaking artists who were among the first to play and popularize the electric guitar.

Featuring the Private Collection of Lynn Wheelwright

Learn more about the invention of an American icon with MIM’s special exhibition catalog, available for purchase at the Museum Store or online at

Thank you to our generous donors

Presenting sponsor The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation

Sponsored by John & Joan D’Addario Foundation, Sanderson Lincoln, and U.S. Bank

John and Joan D’Addario Foundation

U.S. Bank Logo

Supported by Lorraine L. Calbow, Angelo & Micheline Addona, Elizabeth Biaett & Gary Dickey, Babette & Richard Burns, Joe & Elizabeth Chan, Bruce Covill & Lucia Renshaw, Carolyn & John Friedman, Michael & Susan Hooley, Mary Ann & John Mangels, Ann Phillips, Jan & David Wood, and Eugenie C. Trotter & Jack E. Watson

The Electric Guitar: MIM’s Telly Award–Winning Documentary

Video Spotlight: George Benson