Last Wednesday, my wife's 91 year old grandfather was in town for a visit, so we took him to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. It was great. I can't describe how much fun it was. They had musical instruments separated into geographical region, with displays from individual countries including videos you could watch of each instrument being played. It was truly fascinating. I would highly recommend a visit to anyone.
A couple thoughts coming away from it:
1) Almost every country had its own version of one of three types of instruments - something you hit with your hands or sticks (percussion), something that was strung over a resonant chamber and plucked or bowed (guitar/lute), and something you blew into (flute).
2) I felt more justified as a guitarist seeing how many versions of the "guitar" there are out there. Pianists don't have a leg to stand on here, as popular as piano is or was at one time. Some people say the guitar is a dying instrument, and look at how the accordian was once the nation's best selling instrument. I don't feel the "guitar" will ever die after seeing what I saw.
3) We nit pick over the smallest things with our guitars on these forums, but all across the globe, people are building guitars out of animal skin stretched over a gourd with two strings and a broom handle, and they're making music people enjoy and identify with.
That said, they had a 20th Anny doubleneck Dragon on display. Here I am with my 4 year old in front of it. (It was the only guitar in the entire guitar gallery behind glass)
Right near that is a vintage 1953 Les Paul Goldtop. Notice there's nothing protecting the instrument, nothing to stop you from reaching out and touching it.
Steve Vai's triple neck with a video of him playing it live in concert.
One of Carlos Santana's PRSi, on loan from Santana himself, with videos of him playing it.
My wife in front of the largest instrument in the museum, the Octobass.
My 4 year old banging the gong in the interactive exhibit.