Past Exhibits


The Bill Monroe Centennial Exhibit includes over 100 artifacts relating to the life and career of Bill Monroe. Of special interest are Uncle Pen’s fiddle and the original headstock from Bill Monroe’s primary Gibson model F-5 Lloyd Loar mandolin. Also on display are never-before exhibited photographs and items which belonged to Bill Monroe. This fiddle was once owned by Pendleton Vandiver,Bill Monroe’s uncle who greatly influenced Monroe’s music education. Members of Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys, remember Monroe having the fiddle with him on tours.

This headstock was originally on the Gibson model F-5 Lloyd Loar mandolin which Monroe purchased, used, in 1945, on a trip to Miami, Florida. In 1952 the mandolin was in need of repairs, so Monroe sent it to the Gibson factory with instructions to replace the fingerboard, repair the neck and touch up the finish in several areas. After keeping it for several months, the Gibson Company returned it with only the fingerboard replaced. Monroe was so disgusted that he gouged out the Gibson name with a knife, leaving only the word “The” on the headstock.

The F-5 remained logo-less for years, despite repeated offers from the Gibson Company to make the correct repairs. Finally, in 1980, a reconciliation between Monroe and Gibson was brokered and the instrument was carefully repaired, including being given a new headstock with the Gibson logo intact. Also, Bill Monroe’s name was engraved on the truss rod cover.
In 2009 the original headstock with the gouged-out logo was auctioned at Christie’s auction house in New York. The fortunate purchasers, Laura and John Carter Cash of Nashville, Tennessee, have generously loaned this most famous of mandolin parts to the IBMM especially for this exhibit.

The Exhibit ran from September 2011  until September 15, 2012


Sponsored by an Arts Build Communities grant through the Kentucky Arts Council

This Exhibit is the result of an invitation to visual artists to share their interpretation of a Bill Monroe song. Bill Monroe often painted images with his music and in this Exhibit artists have depicted their versions of these same images visually. Thirty-five artists responded to the invitation, with over sixty entries. The entries encompass many styles, from fine art to folk art. This is representative of the wide variety of people to whom Bill Monroe’s music appeals.

Most of the works of art submitted were inspired by the lyrics of a Bill Monroe song, while some were inspired by instrumentals. This is not surprising since Bill Monroe’s instrumental numbers can involve visual images as clearly as those invoked by his lyrics.

Some of the songs used by the artists for inspiration were written by Bill Monroe, while others were written by someone other than Monroe and then recorded by him. Still other songs are traditional folk songs of unknown origin.

The Exhibit will be on display at the International Bluegrass Music Museum through September 15, 2012.

The pieces of art selected for the Exhibit are listed in this catalog in alphabetical order by artist. All the art on display in the Exhibit is available for purchase at the prices listed. Sixty percent of the proceeds will go to the artist and forty percent will go to the Museum.

Click here to view the Exhibit Catalog

The Exhibit ran from September 2011  until September 15, 2012


Included in the Exhibit are instruments, performance clothes, historic photographs, posters, and other memorabilia. On display through September 1, 2011.

The Pioneers of Bluegrass Exhibit highlights over sixty Bluegrass Pioneers. These first generation of bluegrass musicians and promoters helped create and spread the bluegrass music we know today.

Artists included in the Exhibit are Gloria Belle, J.D. Crowe, Tony Ellis, Pete Goble, the McCormick Brothers, Jesse McReynolds, Bill Monroe, Dewey and John Murphy and the Original Blue River Boys, Curly Seckler, Larry Sparks, Bob and Grace French, Roland White and others.

The Exhibit ran until September 1, 2011