The Washington Post
“This object came to the museum in 1993. At the time, Prince had reached out to the museum to suggest making a donation.
“This guitar arrived with essentially no documentation about how he used it or where he used it, or which guitar this was. I think for a while it was a little bit unclear to the museum staff exactly which guitar he had donated — was it a newer guitar, was it an older guitar? But what the staff did identify at the very beginning was a small fleck of paint — the yellow paint that had been chipped off the back of the guitar — and they could see some paint underneath the yellow sheen that covers the entirety of the instrument.
“The guitar shape is so recognizable for many of us today because it first featured in his breakout film ‘Purple Rain,’ which made him an international superstar. The guitar in that film was white — it’s a guitar that’s behind the glass at the guitar shop, a guitar that he longs for and dreams about, and eventually the guitar that he begins to perform with by the end of the film.
“Fast-forward a little bit to just maybe a few months after he had passed away. John Woodland, who was a luthier for Paisley Park studios, reached out to me because he had a theory about this guitar, and he asked if he could come visit the museum to take a closer look at the instrument. I reached out to the National Museum of Natural History and inquired as to whether or not they might have availability for us to use their CT scanner, which they used principally to study fossils. It was incredibly useful to take a look at it because the CT scanner reveals the construction underneath the paint, and illuminated where the guitar had been broken and repaired in the past.
“We found, I think, six layers of paint underneath the outer layer. There’s a white at the base. We think that this is actually the first cloud guitar that Prince had ever had made. It was his first custom guitar ever. And it’s the guitar in ‘Purple Rain.’
“Prince had always sought to break binaries in terms of the genres he was performing, in terms of how he was presenting himself, in terms of songs that were really steeped in notions and conversations involving gender and race. He was really here to challenge us all, to reimagine how we see ourselves in the world, and to feel good about that.”
“We found, I think, six layers of paint underneath the outer layer. There’s a white at the base. We think that this is actually the first cloud guitar that Prince had ever had made.” Curator John Troutman, on the prince guitar housed at the museum
“Today, as you see the growth of fan culture and the breaking down of stereotypes of who can be a fan of science fiction and fantasy, we look back at ‘Xena’ and say, ‘Oh, wow, that was an incredibly popular program that attracted lots of young viewers who were inspired by seeing a strong woman taking care of problems and getting into action, but still not trying to be like a man.’ And also, there was a subtext of the show where she had a friendship with Gabrielle, where a lot of viewers now say that they had assumed it was a lesbian relationship, and that was very important to them to see on their television. It made them connect to the characters.
“I think the whole [display] case [which also includes costumes and props from female actors on “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Walking Dead”] is a little bit of fighting toxic fan bases who get upset when women are presented in strong roles. I wanted to show that there has been a long history of women being present in this kind of programming. These are all different types of characters, but you can see that there is a history there, and that it is important and it is impactful.”
“We look back at ‘Xena’ and say, ‘Oh, wow, that was an incredibly popular program that attracted lots of young viewers who were inspired by seeing a strong woman taking care of problems and getting into action.’” Eric Jentsch, on the series “Xena: Warrior Princess”