Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Powerhouse opens “Maton: Australia’s guitar”

Missy Higgins plays her Maton at Lorne’s Falls Festival, 2004. Photo: Martin Philby.

Stephen A Russell, Maton: Australia’s Guitar, Timeout, 16 July 2020

Australia’s much-loved guitar brand gets the show-stopping exhibition it deserves

After months of uncertainty, the Powerhouse is back! And if that news has you playing the air guitar to the tune of ‘excellent’, Bill & Ted-style, then does the museum have the re-opening exhibition for you.

Maton: Australia’s Guitar is a truly bodacious collection of the beloved Australian manufacture’s thrumming good guitars, favoured by the likes of Elvis Presley, Keith Richards Men at Work, Missy Higgins and Keith Urban. Opening Saturday, July 25, you can thrash out some 130 beloved models, including the one the Easybeats’ guitarist Harry Vanda used to write the hit track ‘Friday on My Mind’, plus Tommy Emmanuel’s hand-painted electric Mastersound MS500M. Entry is free, but timed bookings are essential.

Maton sprung from the melodic mind of Melbourne-born jazz musician, woodwork teacher and luthier Bill May, who founded the brand in 1946. Recognising his incredible contribution to the musical fabric of the country, the Australian Music Association Awards posthumously inducted May into the hall of fame. These days the company is run by Brian May’s daughter Linda and her husband, Neville Kitchen. Still the biggest Australian producer, the company pumps out some 8,000 guitars a year using sustainable local wood, predominantly sourced from Queensland – maple and bunya – and also Victorian blackwood.

Powerhouse chief executive Lisa Havilah says Maton was an integral to the triumph of Australian music worldwide. “At the Powerhouse, we  are committed to communicating the history of our cultural and scientific heritage to our visitors, and we are thrilled to be able to tell the success story of this homegrown manufacturer.”

Tommy Emmanuel says Maton will always be his number one choice. “It’s great to see the unique history of this part of Australian music heritage brought to life for visitors in the major exhibition. I’m thrilled to have my first Maton on display here. My father, Hugh, gave me that wonderful instrument in 1960.”

Want more musical inspiration? Get ready for Gordi live at the Opera House.


Venue name: Powerhouse Museum
Address: 500 Harris St
Ultimo, Sydney 2007
Price: Free
Dates/Times Click here

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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