Monday, March 12, 2012

Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Cleveland, OH

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, OH. It's something I'd planned on doing for several years now and finally things fell into place.

The first thing you notice as you walk up is, of course, the unique design of the building. A pyramid, a tower, and a cube are melded together to create a building unlike anything else I've seen. When I first saw the building, I thought there seemed to be some nods to I.M. Pei's glass pyramid at the Louvre and possibly Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum, but neither is wholly present. Turns out Pei is the architect -- according to the Hall website, Pei stated: "In designing this building," says Pei, "it was my intention to echo the energy of rock and roll. I have consciously used an architectural vocabulary that is bold and new, and I hope the building will become a dramatic landmark for the city of Cleveland and for fans of rock and roll around the world."

The entry is into an open atrium, with the exhibits starting on the lower level and then moving upwards via escalators or elevator. The top two floors hold special exhibit galleries, both of which were closed when I visited.

I walked through the museum twice, once before lunch, and once in the early evening. The first time the audience consisted mostly of touristy-looking people and school groups, while the evening group appeared to be folks coming by after work.

What I liked

This is an amazing collection of memorabilia, truly exciting to see some of the fantastic historical artifacts that have been placed here. It's nice to see the breadth of honorees and types of music included. As a music aficionado, but not historian, it was most interesting to see the gaps in their collection -- that may be from lack of space or just not having artifacts. The varying ways that things are presented - photos, instruments, music, video, text -- is very thorough and educational.

What I Didn't Like

This building appears to have been built more for looks than usefulness. It's an awkward set-up, especially moving upwards rather than down, but maybe that's just my impression. I also felt like the exhibits were overly crowded, too many things to see in too short a time. In addition, many of the exhibits had musical accompaniment, and the sounds sort of blended together into a din of sorts. I'm definitely spoiled by the museums here in Chicagoland, but the cafe was a glorified hot dog stand, definitely less than what I expect of a museum location.

Overall Impressions

I approach rock and roll from a punk perspective, so would have liked to see at least such local jewels like the Pop Shop mentioned along with the Agora, but I realize space is at a premium and, maybe, the bands I grew up with are not necessarily that important from a history perspective.

Just the sheer amount of outrageously cool rock and roll stuff was worth the visit. I think the way I did it, with an initial visit to walk through the entire museum to get a lay of the land, with a return visit to look at certain items more closely. It would probably be worth getting a two-day pass in order to watch all the films that I could not and I'm sure another day would be needed if the special exhibits were up.

(While in Cleveland, I also had the opportunity to check out The Flying Fig restaurant, worth a detour if you are in the area.)

(Disclaimer - I was provided a media pass to visit the museum. Apart from that, I received no compensation in exchange for this review, nor did I agree to give the museum a positive review in exchange for the pass.)

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  1. Visited there a couple times when I was doing some consulting work in Dayton. It's a cool place, but I agree that all the music blends together into a brown mess of noise.

  2. With my family there, I hit it up several years back. Lots of fun to go through, but I would say space is underutilized, especially top floors. Glad you got a chance to go.

  3. Glad you had a chance to finally see it.

  4. I saw the Deftones at the Agora many moons ago. I've never been to the museum, though.

  5. Whew! So glad you had a fairly enjoyable time at the museum - after my recc I kept thinking "Wow, I hope he doesn't go and think it's crap!" Now I want to go!

  6. I have never been but I want to visit it when the boys are older

  7. Never been there but heard it's pretty cool. Nice you got a media pass!


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