This article is a part of the 2024 Spring Travel Guide, a sponsored collection brought to you by our travel advertising partners. You can find more spring travel destinations and events here.

Since the nation’s inception nearly two and a half centuries ago, music has informed, interpreted, and inspired our national identity. To celebrate and explore this remarkable heritage, the LBJ Presidential Library and the Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music at Monmouth University invite you to explore the exhibition Music America: Iconic Objects from America’s Music History now open through August 11 at the LBJ Library in Austin. Music America features more than one hundred objects representing the depth and breadth of American music, spanning decades and genres.

For the first time in one place, visitors can see everything from B.B. King’s guitar “Lucille,” the fox fur stole worn by Billie Holiday, and a handmade velvet shirt worn by Elvis Presley to Chuck D’s handwritten lyrics to “Fight the Power,” the wedding dress Madonna wore in the “Like a Virgin” video, and the outfit Bruce Springsteen wore on the “Born in the U.S.A.” album cover. By focusing on musicians and personal memorabilia from this country’s past and present, Music America chronicles the soundtrack of America.

Photo by Jay Godwin

A partial list of artists and objects include:

  • Leonard Bernstein’s baton
  • John Coltrane’s saxophone
  • Chuck D’s handwritten lyrics to “Fight the Power”
  • Gloria Estefan’s sequined dress from her 1996 tour
  • Woody Guthrie’s signed “This Land is Your Land” lyrics
  • Billie Holiday’s fox fur stole
  • Buddy Holly’s outfit worn on “American Bandstand”
  • B.B. King’s guitar “Lucille”
  • Madonna’s wedding dress from the “Like a Virgin” video
  • Willie Nelson’s cowboy boots given to him by Gene Autry’s widow
  • Elvis Presley’s 1956 Tupelo, Mississippi, concert shirt
  • Prince’s “Purple Rain” shirt and “Cloud” guitar
  • Bruce Springsteen’s outfit worn on the “Born in the U.S.A.” album cover
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Number One” guitar

Music lovers will enjoy an interactive “Song Bar” enabling them to hear performances by some of the artists highlighted in the exhibition, along with additional melodies that demonstrate the great productivity of American musicians.

Music America is curated by the Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music in association with the New Orleans Jazz Museum and Hard Rock International, along with dozens of prominent collectors of American music ephemera.

After making its national debut in Austin, one of the country’s most important music centers, Music America will travel to other presidential libraries and institutions across the country.

Explore the iconic objects in this one-of-a-kind collection for a deeper appreciation of the role music has played in the broad sweep of American history. The LBJ Library is open daily from 9 am – 5 pm. Parking is free.

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