American Banjo Museum

Our friends at hotels.com have teamed up with Bill On The Road to highlight some of the most interesting museums in the hottest travel destinations for 2020.

In the historic Bricktown neighborhood of Oklahoma City, you’ll find the world’s largest collection of banjos on display at the American Banjo Museum. More than 400 of the instruments can be viewed on two floors of the 21,000 square foot facility.  Fear not if you aren’t a musician or have never considered trying to play anything more complex than a kazoo.  Trust me – you’ll still really enjoy checking out this museum if you’re looking for things to do in Oklahoma City.

As you might expect, a tour begins with an in-depth look at the history of the banjo in the United States.  But it’s the banjos themselves that are really the highlight of the museum. Even if you have little interest in their history or contribution to society – you can’t help but be amazed at the beauty of each one of them.  Many of the banjos are uniquely designed, dressed up like pieces of artwork.

American Banjo Museum display

The banjo has seen a resurgence in popularity and a renewed interest from the younger generation thanks to its use in modern music.  The Grammy winning band Mumford & Sons helped bring the banjo back to the mainstream as they first rose in popularity. Other mainstream acts like Taylor Swift or Rascal Flatts have introduced the banjo to a new audience through live performances and music videos.   The museum staff credits that sort of promotion for the surge in younger visitors showing an interest in the museum.

Comedian Steve Martin has long used the banjo as a singer/songwriter as well as in comedy routines since the 1960s. Martin’s first banjo has been on display at the museum in a rotating exhibit. (He used to sit in his car and play it because his parents grew tired of hearing him practice.)   A custom banjo gifted to Martin during the Kennedy Center Honors in 2005 was donated to the museum collection.

Another recent exhibit featured Kermit The Frog and the banjo used in various shows and movies – including the performance of “Rainbow Connection”.

American Banjo Museum OKC

While the displays and exhibits are interesting, nothing is more enjoyable than watching professional musicians bring these great instruments to life.  The American Banjo Museum offers public jam sessions throughout the year.  Visitors can enjoy free admission by bringing their own instrument and participating with other guests.  Of course, sitting around and tapping your toes is also acceptable.

The museum is also home to the Banjo Hall of Fame which inducts honorees each fall.  Notable members include Jim Henson, Roy Clark, Steve Martin, Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, and The Kingston Trio.

There are plenty of affordable hotels in the Bricktown district which will put you in walking distance of the Banjo Museum.

The America Banjo Museum is located at 9 East Sheridan Avenue in the Bricktown district of Oklahoma City.  It is closed on Mondays.  Admission is an affordable $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, and $6.00 for children.  A special family price (2 adults, 2 children) is $15.00

For more information you can visit their website: americanbanjomuseum.com 

Be sure to check out some of the other places we featured!

Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas
Alcatraz East in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
The Ringling in Sarasota, Florida
Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana
Mini Time Machine Museum in Tucson, Arizona

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