Things to Do in Oklahoma City: American Banjo Museum
The American Banjo Museum, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is home to 21,000 square feet of information that provides historical celebration of the Banjo. With approximately a $5 million worth, the American Banjo Museum is recognized as one of the most extensive museums of its kind. American Banjo Museum
In 1998 Brady Hunt and Jack Canine bonded over their shared love of the banjo. Canine believed that the Banjo is America’s most beautiful and special instrument, and that its history should be preserved and made accessible to anyone. So, Canine and Hunt founded the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Since then, the museum has evolved by moving to a bigger location in Oklahoma City, and changing the name to the simple, American Banjo Museum. Photo: American Banjo Museum
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The American Banjo Museum provides extensive history and facts about the banjo. Through a variety of exhibits, the American Banjo Museum proves that the banjo is historically and culturally significant.
America’s Instrument is an interpretive exhibit that is around eight minutes along. Through the America’s Instrument exhibit, visitors will see an overview of the history of the banjo, specifically focusing on how the banjo emerged within the mid-1600s, which was during the height of American slavery.
The Minstrel Era – From the Plantation to the Stage follows the banjo’s rise that began in the 1840s. This attraction showcases how the banjo began to stray from solely being a folk instrument. During this time, many people created new banjo structures, which ultimately influenced how the modern banjo is designed. One of the highlights of this attraction is a rare William Boucher banjo, which was manufactured in the 1840s. Photo: American Banjo Museum
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The Classical Era – The Banjo Goes Legit focuses on how the banjo became a monumental classical instrument. This exhibit examines how social and cultural factors influenced the banjo being an instrument only used by comedians and folk musicians, to an elegant and whimsical instrument.
The 1920s – The Banjos that Made the Twenties Roar showcases over 300 banjos from the jazz age. Throughout this attraction, visitors will learn how the banjo and jazz music influenced each other. After all, the 1920s is the period that banjo enthusiasts argue was the height of success for the banjo and banjo players.
Bluegrass & Beyond examines how the banjo reemerged after WWII. Instead of being viewed as a classical instrument, people began using the banjo for Bluegrass music. A popular historical moment from this exhibition is about one of the most popular sounds in Bluegrass music is a banjo picking noise that is created by lightly picking the banjo with three fingers. The exhibit details how the technique was created by Earl Scruggs during this period.
The Folk Explosion…A Mighty Wind explores the resurgence of folk music that occurred during the 1950s and 60s. This attraction focuses on popular folk groups and artists from that time, such as Pete Seeger, and how they used the banjo to transform music. Many of the modern day folk artists take influence from the likes of Seeger. Photo: American Banjo Museum
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Aside from the permanent attractions in the American Banjo Museum, there are special attractions that come and go from the museum monthly. If you’re interested in exploring a special attraction, you should check the Special Exhibit tab on the museum’s website.
The only special attraction that the museum currently has is The Banjo World of Steve Martin. The Banjo World of Steve Martin showcases how the banjo influenced one of America’s favorite comedians, Steve Martin. In a variety of pictures, memorabilia, and videos, visitors can see how much the banjo means to Steve Martin, and his efforts in promoting the instrument. The Banjo World of Steve Martin will be accessible to American Banjo Museum visitors until January 2017. Photo: American Banjo Museum
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To expand on the American Banjo Museum’s efforts to promote the banjo, they offer banjo classes to the public. These banjo classes are geared towards beginner banjo players. Participants don’t have to worry about getting a banjo, because they are provided. A fun initiative for taking the banjo class is that participants get a 10% coupon that is good for anything in the American Banjo Museum Gift Shop.
After walking through the museum, visitors get the chance to purchase something from the American Banjo Museum Gift Shop. The gift shop has a variety of products, such as; apparel, CD’s, DVD’s, sheet music, publications, banjos, and other gift items. All the profits from the American Banjo Museum Gift Shop goes directly back to the American Banjo Museum, so that the trustees can actively search for more artifacts and keep the museum running.
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Address: 9 E Sheridan Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, website, Phone: 405-604-2793 Photo: American Banjo Museum
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Things to Do in Oklahoma City: American Banjo Museum
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