Gunnar Schonbeck: No Experience Required

Exhibition Website

May 28 2017 - Dec 2019

Over a period of fifty years, Gunnar Schonbeck crafted an arsenal of more than 1,000 instruments, handmade from a diverse and unexpected range of materials. His unmistakable works include a 9-foot banjo, 8-ft tall marimba, drums made from aircraft fuselages, welded steel harps and countless steel drums, zithers, pan pipes, tubular chimes, and triangular cellos. His practice draws on a core philosophy: anyone can be a musician and music can be made from the most ordinary of objects. 

Over the last five years, visiting musicians to MASS MoCA, including Bang on a Can’s Mark Stewart and Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, have drawn on Schonbeck’s instruments in their performances and projects. With the restoration and renovation of Building 6, MASS MoCA will bring Schonbeck’s distinct approach to music making to a wide audience, encouraging visitors and artists to play and experiment. A gallery devoted to the musicologist will feel like a high school music room — outfitted with a selection of Schonbeck’s instruments, available to visiting artists, MASS MoCA visitors, and local school groups.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

  • Installation
  • American
  • 20th Century
  • Gunnar Schonbeck

Exhibition Venues & Dates