"GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World" Exhibition Featuring the World's Largest Playable Guitar Debuts in Illinois during Peoria's Year of Guitar

Peoria’s Year of the Guitar celebration reaches a high note with the Illinois debut of the “GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World” exhibition, featuring the World’s Largest Playable Guitar, opening Sept. 26, 10 a.m. (through Jan. 10) at Peoria Riverfront Museum.

The World’s Largest Playable Guitar, a 43.5-foot long Gibson Flying V certified by Guinness World Records, headlines the exhibition of more than 70 guitars including acoustic, electric, historical (one dates back to 1806), the famous, such as B.B. King’s “Lucille,” and the unusual, like the world’s largest multi-neck guitar and armadillo shell guitars. Family-friendly interactives allow visitors to explore the art, science of sound, history and pop culture behind the world's most popular instrument.

All visitors to the exhibition may enter to win a real Gibson Flying V guitar, valued at $1400.

“The guitar is the most enduring icon in American history. It has been around longer than baseball, basketball, soft drinks and sports cars,” said HP Newquist, founder and executive director of The National GUITAR Museum.

Guitars as we know them, with their signature hourglass shape, evolved more than 200 years ago from European and Asian instruments created during the Middle Ages (oud, sitar and lute). The exhibition displays the historic instruments with contemporary guitars to show the evolution. STEAM-based elements demonstrate electromagnetism, sound waves, frequency, decibel levels, mathematical scales, engineering design and materials, along with amplification, memory skills and performance.

A local component added by the museum spotlights the objects and stories behind Peoria’s celebrated music scene. Memorabilia from Peoria-born guitar legends Gary Richrath, Dan Fogelberg, Steve Gibson and others are on display. A special exhibit features the story of the world-renowned Golden Voice Recording Studio of South Pekin, and includes a Grammy Award won by Ron Stockert of Rufus & Chaka Khan for “Tell Me Something Good,” and Fogelberg’s Gold & Platinum Award records.

The Golden Voice stage in the exhibition will host live guitar performances every Saturday at 2 p.m. Opening day, Sept. 26, visitors to the exhibition can check out a self-playing guitar made by Michael Kuzma, Bradley University alumnus and AutonomouStuff engineer.

 Stayed tuned for more events related to the museum’s “Guitar” exhibition at RiverfrontMuseum.org.

The museum gratefully acknowledges the Guitar exhibition presenting sponsors, Illinois Mutual, PNC, Ruby K. Worner Charitable Trust, UnityPoint Health and OSF HealthCare, with additional sponsorship by the Corporate Visionary Society Council and the Illinois Arts Council Agency; and Gibson Flying V sponsor Hecht-Stout Insurance Agency with support from Guitar Center Peoria.

"GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World" is produced by The National Guitar Museum. The National GUITAR Museum was founded to promote and preserve the legacy of the guitar and is the world's first museum dedicated to the history, science, evolution and cultural impact of the guitar.

Admission to "GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World" is free for members and, $18 for adults, $16 for youth (3-17) and $17 for students and seniors (65+). Indoor and outdoor Giant Screen Theater experiences are extra. The museum is open Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the exhibition or the museum, call 309.686.7000 or visit

Peoria Riverfront Museum

The only multidisciplinary museum of its kind in the nation, the Peoria Riverfront Museum uses art, science, history and achievement to inspire confidence, lifelong learning, and talent. Since opening in 2012, the privately funded museum has provided more than one million experiences through major exhibitions, a permanent collection, interactive galleries, a dome planetarium, giant screen theater and educational programming including curricula-related student visits. The AAM-accredited, Smithsonian-affiliated private nonprofit museum is supported by more than 4,000 members and donors and is housed in a county-owned LEED Gold-certified building on a campus overlooking the Illinois River.