Bruce Springsteen Exhibit Moves to the Streets of Philadelphia

Monday, February 20: 1 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum VP of exhibitions and curatorial Jim Henke talks Springsteen

From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen opened at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia this past weekend. The Rock Hall curated the exhibit, and it was the major temporary exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum from April 2009 to February 2011.

The Springsteen exhibit was not originally intended to travel, but after representatives from the Constitution Center came to Cleveland to see it, they thought it would be a great fit for their museum. We had several discussions with them, and we worked with Springsteen’s management to see whether moving it was a possibility. In the end, we all agreed that it made sense to take the exhibit to the Constitution Center. After all, Springsteen’s roots go back to the Jersey Shore, an area not that far from Philadelphia. Moreover, Springsteen is a truly American musician and songwriter, someone who has given voice to the restlessness, hopes and dreams of ordinary Americans. Millions of listeners have found their experience of the American dream reflected in his songs about the lonely, the lost, the unemployed, immigrants and military veterans. The City of Brotherly Love was a fitting location for an exhibit exploring the life and career of Bruce Springsteen.

The Constitution Center celebrated the opening with three days of events. Last Wednesday featured a special press preview of the exhibit. Roughly 100 journalists turned out for a luncheon and preview tour of the exhibit. I spoke about putting the exhibit together, while Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner talked about its relevance to his museum’s mission. Frank Stefanko, the photographer who shot the cover photos for Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River, was also there to meet with the reporters.

The Constitution Center hosted Greetings from Asbury Park, an opening celebration that featured the B Street Band, a Springsteen tribute band, on Wednesday evening. More than 1,100 people turned out for the event. On Thursday, the center hosted an Educator Open House. Hundreds of teachers turned out for the event, and I did three programs in a museum auditorium, presenting a slideshow of some of the artifacts featured in the exhibit, and talking about how the Rock Hall put the exhibit together. A School of Rock band performed Springsteen songs at the open house. Finally, on Friday morning, the exhibit opened to the public. The School of Rock was once again on the scene, and we had a formal ribbon-cutting. (pictured: Springsteen's 1954 Fender Telecaster body with 1952 Fender Esquire neck. Springsteen purchased the guitar immediately after signing his contract with Columbia Records. The guitar is also featured on the cover of Born to Run.)

It is truly awesome that the exhibit is in Philadelphia, and now even more of Springsteen’s fans will have a chance to see the exhibit, which includes the outfit Springsteen wore on the cover of Born in the USA, his handwritten lyrics to "Born to Run" and his 1960 Corvette. We especially want to thank the Constitution Center for all that they have done to make this possible.



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