Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Museum Visit: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Oh humidity. You ruin my photos! During our recent road trip out west, we had some extra time. So we went out to Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum before heading back home. Unfortunately it was hot and humid. And my exterior photos didn’t turn out so well. Oh well, that’s what happens sometimes. Note to self, get a lens-safe cleaning cloth…

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, right on Lake Erie. The harbor is dense in popular sites to visit: the Great Lakes Science Center, the Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Steamship William G. Mather Maritime Museum and the USS Cod. Due to time, and admittedly the weather, we weren’t able to see and do as much as we would have liked. The Mather Museum looked really neat and is definitely on the list for a future visit. Also, parking for the museums was very easy the day that we went.

The building housing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — which was notably designed by I. M. Pei — looks relatively small on the outside but it’s actually quite spacious. The museum’s about as touristy as you’d expect: they take your photo on a green screen as you enter and then apply it to a Rolling Stone magazine cover and the bright pink wristbands bring to mind backstage passes. In fact, the man selling tickets admitted as much to us when he commented I was the first person he’d seen there wearing an Einstürzende Neubauten t-shirt. In his words the museum is more of a “corporate rock thing.” Fair enough.

The exhibits are organized by genre and they have a fair amount of artifacts from the blues and early days of rock and roll. They have a few Bo Diddley guitars (which were of particular interest to my husband) and Howlin’ Wolf’s money case (apparently he didn’t trust banks). Maybe the artifact that amazed me the most was that they have part of the plane that Otis Redding died in. Parked outside the museum they have one of Johnny Cash’s tour buses. I was also pretty excited to see Greg Dulli’s amp in the exhibit dedicated to Ohio bands; also included in that exhibit are The Cramps and, of course, The Black Keys.

But for every band that was was shown, there are countless others that aren’t. I found it odd that it’s a museum for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but there were no special exhibits for those that had been inducted.

The mix of visitors to the museum was interesting. The majority seemed to be people who lived rock and roll the first time around. But there were a number of teenagers who seemed to be there on their own with friends. I can only imagine what the older visitors thought looking at the Sub Pop Records display and what the younger visitors thought looking at the gospel music display.

I read some negative reviews of the museum online. One man suggested visiting a few Hard Rock Cafes instead. In a way, he has a point. The two share the same sort of memorabilia. In the end, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of those museums that, as a rock fan, you want to see. But in all likelihood you won’t leave blown away.

At least I wasn’t.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Collection Auto Group Plaza
1100 Rock and Roll Blvd.
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-1022
Open daily: 10am – 5:30pm
(and until 9pm on Wed.)

Elvis display

Howlin' Wolf's money case

The Hollies' drumhead

Afghan Whigs and Sub Pop exhibit

Otis Redding's plane

Johnny Cash's tour bus

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