From C.F. Martin at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the traveling National Guitar Museum, exhibitions focused on the cultural contributions of the guitar are reverberating this year like never before.
Even 2013’s Guitars! Roundups to Rockers showcase at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis made news—it was the museum’s best-attended show in its 25-year history.
No doubt about it: guitar exhibits are really taking flight. And in the case of a new exhibit of Manuel Rodriguez guitars, they really are taking flight.
Now on display at the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain are several guitars from Manuel Rodriguez and Sons, the multi-generational family-run company of Spanish luthiers which got its guitar-making start in the early 20th century by Manuel Rodriguez Perez—the son of a noted 19th century flamenco guitarist—and has been carried on by his son Manuel Rodriguez (who helped usher in such classical guitar innovations as the moveable bridge) and, currently, grandson Manuel Rodriguez, Jr.
Travelers strolling through the Dali and Velazquez VIP Lounge of terminal 4 will see eight guitars in various stages of completion—displayed to show the luthier process and detail the framework of the Rodriguez guitars. All handcrafted by third-generation company head Manuel, Jr., four of the guitars are in the process of being made; the other four are cut through in a cross section for a behind-the-wood look at the finished product. The instruments are accompanied by small mosaics and pieces of exotic woods, most of which are nearly 70 years old. According to the Rodriguez guitars website, the family’s instruments have made it into the homes of such performers as Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John.
Whether the Rodriguez showcase is the start of a new trend in airport-guitar exhibits remains to be seen. Still, for those interested in a 21st century travel-guitar display, try checking the overhead compartments in coach.