About 14 months ago the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame began working on a redesign of the museum’s galleries. It was a project that we had talked about for quite a few years, and in September 2010 it finally got underway. The project had a couple of main goals: upgrading all of the audio, video and interactive elements, improving wayfinding and – most importantly – reorganizing the exhibits so they tell the story of rock and roll in a more chronological way. The Museum’s exhibits have always covered the entire history of rock and roll, from the roots of rock up to the present, but they were never in any particular order. The roots exhibits were in one section of the main gallery, while the Fifties exhibit was way on the other side of the gallery. We wanted to correct that.
Making these changes meant we had to have a lot of new cases built, and we also added a few new exhibits. For example, we used to have an exhibit on Ohio music; now we have an exhibit on Cleveland’s music and one on the music of the Midwest. We also added a heavy metal exhibit, and we installed new artifacts where we could to improve upon what we already had. For example, in the center of the main exhibit hall, we added new sections on Genesis, James Brown, the Supremes and the Beach Boys. We also added some new clothing to the David Bowie exhibit, and we expanded our Jim Morrison exhibit to include items from the other members of the Doors. The roots exhibit includes an incredible case that features guitars from Muddy Waters, Lead Belly, John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf, among others.
The first phase of the project lasted until Memorial Day, then we took a break for our busy summer season. We started work again after Labor Day this year, and I am extremely happy to report that the project is now almost complete! The entire museum is once again open, and it looks like a brand new museum! The new cases are beautiful, and all of the audio and video has been upgraded to state of the art. There is one basic path that most visitors will take through the main gallery, which is now in chronological order. There are a few things that still need to be completed. We are updating the video element of our Rolling Stones exhibit, and we will be adding a new video element to the center of the main exhibit hall. But, for the most part, the redesign project is done. It’s fantastic! Even if you have been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the past, you need to come back again and see all of the changes we made. We want to give special thanks to all of the staff who were involved in this project and to Westlake, Reed, Leskosky, the architectural firm that we worked with.