“Storied Strings” on display at VMFA

The interactive, expansive exhibit explores the role of the guitar in American art.


Curator Dr. Leo Mazow speaks to the press before the exhibit opening.

Photo by RICtoday

“Guitars are everywhere.”

Those were Dr. Leo Mazow’s words as he introduced the new VMFA exhibit, “Storied Strings: The Guitar in American Art.” He spoke in reference to American history + culture, but the sentiment applies to the exhibition itself.

“Storied Strings,” which opens tomorrow, is an expansive look at the guitar as an artistic subject, prop, instrument, and symbol. The exhibit features 100+ works including 35 musical instruments — and covers three centuries worth of American art.

Instead of moving chronologically through guitar appearances in art, the exhibit is organized by different themes. Visitors can explore the instrument’s connections to gender, race, identity, aesthetics + performance.

The exhibit doesn’t end there. Built into the lower gallery is a fully-functioning recording studio. Throughout the exhibit’s stay, artists will appear for a series of studio recordings called Richmond Sessions '22-'23.

The interior of a recording studio with a couch, chairs, and microphones in the foreground. There are eight guitars hung on display on the wall. Text on the wall reads "Richmond Sessions"

The Richmond Sessions will bring guitarists inside the exhibit to record.

Photo by RICtoday

The Richmond Sessions will be put on in partnership with local production company In Your Ear Studios. The museum has released a list of musicians expected to appear.

There’s no schedule for when recordings will happen — so you could happen upon a live session while exploring the exhibit.

Look out for the video of the first recording featuring folk musician Lucy Kaplansky on Wed., Oct. 12. Sessions will be posted to the VMFA YouTube channel.

While you’re at it, you can cheers to the new exhibit with the special beer release VMFA + Starr Hill collaborated on.

Tickets to “Storied Strings” are $16 for adults, $12 for older adults (65+), $10 for youth and college students, and free for VMFA members.

More from RICtoday