The origins of The GIG at Belmont trace back to the generous gift of a stringed instrument enthusiast to an institution that treasures music and music history.
An avid collector of iconic stringed instruments, the late Steven Kern Shaw invested much of his inheritance in acquiring historically significant guitars and mandolins. Shaw’s passion for music emerged as practically a birthright. As the grandson of the late Jerome Kern, Steven grew up under the influence of one of America’s foremost composers of musical theater and popular tunes. Kern’s hits included such classic songs as “Ol’ Man River,” “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” among countless others.
Following Steven Kern Shaw’s death, his will specified his desire that his prized instruments be donated to an institution capable of properly exhibiting and caring for the collection, preferably in the Nashville area that had become his home. He also felt strongly that “these instruments are to be played and heard,” not just collect dust in a display. Thanks to the input of family friend, co-executor of his estate and vintage guitar expert George Gruhn, the Shaw Collection of nearly 500 unique and irreplaceable instruments came to Belmont University and established the foundation of The Gallery of Iconic Guitars at Belmont. Now, beyond just conveying the important history and design of these instruments this museum will bring new life and music to these unique, irreplaceable guitars and mandolins rather than merely displaying them behind glass.
The Gallery of Iconic Guitars at Belmont is located on the campus of Belmont University inside the Lila D. Bunch Library. Free parking is available on the street and in designated visitor lots.