Guitar: On tour at the Carnegie Science Center, the world’s most popular instrument gets its solo

Opening spread for “Guitar” in Carnegie Magazine

Client: Carnegie Magazine

Purpose + Audience

The goal of this feature story is to inform museum members and the general public about a new traveling exhibit opening at Pittsburgh’s science center. Carnegie Magazine is a quarterly in-house publication produced by the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, covering museum news and upcoming exhibits. The magazine describes its audience — nearly 64,000 readers, many of whom are museum members — as “affluent, influential, highly educated, and culturally involved.”

Challenges

In researching and writing this preview, I faced two main challenges:

  1. Developing an engaging local angle for a national exhibition with no obvious Pittsburgh connection
  2. Conveying the exhibit’s essence to readers without first experiencing the show in person

To meet these challenges, I researched the exhibit using reviews and photos of previous installations and interviewed experts on guitar history and manufacture. To develop a strong local perspective, I used several Pittsburgh-based sources, including guitar-makers (luthiers), a Carnegie Mellon University professor and the leader of a prominent indie rock band.

Results

The final project consists of a six-page story on the exhibit, which includes a sidebar on local luthiers. As a result of my work on this first assignment, Carnegie Magazine has commissioned additional articles from me, including the Fall 2012 cover story on Andy Warhol.

Opening spread for “Guitar” in Carnegie Magazine

Second spread, showing sidebar (right) on Pittsburgh-based luthiers

Third spread

Excerpt

“I think I gotta get outta here, ’cause my Linda, she don’t live here no more,” Jimi Hendrix crooned at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. “That’s alright — I still got my guitar.” From a bluesy simmer, the Gibson Flying V in his hands boiled over with sex and heartbreak, inhuman shrieks, and pure electricity.
The Flying V, introduced in the late 1950s, is pure Space Age, with an aerodynamic body that seems to fly into the future. When Hendrix played it, clad in flame-colored psychedelic robes, he aimed that rocket ship — past Russia, past even the Moon — toward the valleys of Neptune.
The Flying V that will greet visitors to a new traveling exhibit at Carnegie Science Center is essentially the same as Hendrix’s: a V-shaped body in black and white, six strings, magnetic pickups. This one, however, lies flat on its back — and is 43.5 feet long.

Full Text

Download PDF or read at carnegiemuseums.org