Chicago’s Navy Pier presents The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois – a one-of-a-kind exhibit showcasing the achievements and contributions of The Land of Lincoln’s music greats – now through Aug. 27.

The State of Sound celebrates the musicians, legendary radio stations, and homegrown musical gear that have shaped the sonic history of Illinois and the world. Rare treasures from Muddy Waters, REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Earth Wind and Fire, and Smashing Pumpkins will be on display. The exhibit is organized by musical genre, from jazz to country to house. Display cases present artifacts from artists in each genre. Wall panels of text and photos explain the musical significance of hundreds of artists.

This exhibit is a new version of the award-winning presentation created in 2021 by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the state’s official historical library. The State of Sound was conceived as a way to celebrate the state’s incredible contributions to America’s musical legacy and tell stories from all corners of Illinois. Navy Pier’s exhibit is the first time The State of Sound and the many rare items it features will be seen outside of the presidential library.

The exhibition at Navy Pier also resurrects the acclaimed showpiece written by award-winning author and documentary producer Dave Hoekstra. He is also known as a former Chicago Sun-Times columnist and critic. The free exhibit will be housed on the first floor of Navy Pier’s Festival Hall and open to guests during all Pier operating hours.

Some items on display include:

  • Brett Eldredge – Lyrics for the Song “Illinois”
  • Wilco – Jeff Tweedy’s hat
  • John Prine – Stage Materials
  • Steve Goodman – Handwritten lyrics for “City of New Orleans”
  • Sones de Mexico – Donkey Jaw Instrument
  • Eddie Blazonczyk – Grammy Award
  • Frankie Knuckles – Turntable
  • Earth Wind & Fire – 8-track of I Am Album & Press Kit
  • Nat King Cole – Tape box From 1953 Blue Note Concert
  • Buddy Guy – Bejeweled Wah-Wah Pedal
  • Howlin’ Wolf – Harmonica and Rock Hall Plaque
  • Cheap Trick – Rick Nielsen’s Hat, Bow Tie and Guitar Picks
  • REO Speedwagon – Diamond sales Award for Hi Infidelity
  • Mahalia Jackson – Performance Contract
  • Thomas Dorsey – Sheet Music
  • Curtis Mayfield – Grammy Nomination Plaque for Freddie’s Dead
  • Jimmy Chamberlin / Smashing Pumpkins – Drumsticks

In addition to the exhibit, guests can listen to the podcast that will explore the great achievements and contributions of Illinois’ most talented musicians in The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois exhibition at Navy Pier.