Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – Cleveland, OH

3 08 2009
  • 1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard
  • Cleveland, OH 44114
  • (216) 781-7625
  • Website
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Clevealand, OH

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Clevealand, OH

Who doesn’t like impromptu trips?  J and I were in Sandusky, OH where we met some friends for lunch.  After hanging out on the shore of Lake Erie for a while, we parted ways.  They had another engagement and we were looking for something else to do.  Sure, Cedar Point was an option, but that’s freakin expensive…especially since we were only looking to kill a few hours before driving home.  J suggested Kelleys Island, but I wasn’t super excited about that.  Again, a $20 ferry ride to walk around for an hour or so.  She then asked how far Cleveland was.

Since moving to Lansing, I’ve wanted to go to Cleveland for three things.  A baseball game at Progessive Field, a meal at one or both of Michael Symon’s restaurants, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The baseball game was almost over and we weren’t dressed for dinner at Lola or Lolita, but the Rock Hall was still an option.  Since it was only an hour or so drive and we’d have two hours once we got there, we headed east.  As J likes to say, “Why not?”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is located on Cleveland’s waterfront in the North Coast Harbor area.  The building, designed by I.M Pei, sits right next to the Great Lakes Science Center and Cleveland Browns Stadium.  We weren’t really sure about parking.  I took a wrong turn because I got into a turn lane so I had to go down by the football stadium and turn around which brought us right back in front of the Rock Hall.  If I had gotten lucky there was street parking, but I never get that lucky.  We found a small municipal about a block away that charged $10 for the day. 

We walked back to the iconic glass pyramid building where I snapped a few pictures.  You’ll notice these are the only pictures I’m posting of the Hall of Fame.  That’s because it was the only ones I could take.  There are signs all over the building demanding that you check all cameras and video cameras.  There is not photography or video recording allowed inside the building which I think sucks.  The official reason is….

Many of the artists who have generously loaned or donated artifacts to the Museum have stipulated that these items are not to be photographed or reproduced in any way. Due to our agreements with these artists, photography and video are allowed only in the Museum Lobby. Cameras should be left at the coat and camera checkroom on the Museum’s Ground Level.

Oh musicians.  I know why I’m not a huge music fan and this kind of backs that up.  I just can’t support an art form that is so full of itself.   What am I going to do?  Sell a photo of Bono’s coat from the Zoo TV tour?  Who would want that?

Anyway, moving on.  We got inside and found the ticket gate.  Before we got to the counter, J was stopped by a guy in front of a green screen and handed a guitar.  He never said a word, just pointed to the green screen.  She stood there and I stayed back.  He motioned for me to stand next to her, but never said a word or even why he was taking pictures.  J started to walk away, but I just grabbed and her told her to smile.  I figured out they were selling these pictures, so I posed and let him take the picture…without ever saying a word to us…so we could move on. 

Tickets were $22 a piece.  I thought it was a better use of our money than a ferry ride and it’s something that I’ve really wanted to see for a while.  After buying tickets, you find an escalator to the basement where you give the lady your ticket, she gives you a wristband and you head into the museum part of the exhibit space. 

This was the part I was really looking forward to.  I know it makes me sound like a dork, but I really like museums.  I’ve always been a history buff and, for whatever reason, I love looking at items that were part of history. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a lot of reading.  A lot.  A big part of the space is set up with huge display cases that sort of show different eras of Rock and Roll.  Those display cases hold everything from record jackets, tickets, and programs to guitars, drum heads, and clothing.  Each artifact has a number attached to it and there is a corresponding description of the item at the bottom of the case.  Most of these cases had at least 50 different things in them.  Most of them were paper items which I found to be incredibly uninteresting.  These cases weren’t very much fun to look at it and just trying to find the cool thing in each case was difficult.

Fortunately, the whole museum wasn’t set up this way.  There was one room that that had a lot of Elvis memorabilia.  I’m not a huge Elvis fan, but I’m still fascinated by the larger than life performing he became.  The center of the room held a Cadillac that Elvis bought for one of his band members.  Of course, there were a couple of his sequined jumpsuits, guitars, and letters that were written to or from The King.  The thing I noticed in this part was how hard it was to read a lot of the contracts, letters, etc. that were put into glass cases.  The lights were in the ceiling and when you walked up to the case to read some of the things, you blocked the light.  There were no lights in the cases.  You had to stand off to the side and hope no one else was trying to do the same and blocking your light. 

There was a really cool display or Rolling Stones costumes and a display of some Beatles memoribilia.  Surprisingly, there was not as much of either as I would have guessed.  I always assumed the Beatles would have a huge display, but there were a few jackets, some hand written songs and some old ticket stubs.  J’s a big Beatles fan due to her mom being a huge fan.  Me, not so much.  It was interesting to look at, but I’m glad I had J for some background. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on the shore of Lake Erie in Cleveland, OH

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on the shore of Lake Erie in Cleveland, OH

In the middle of the museum was a big display of costumes and clothes.  The coolest part of the whole museum was in this space.  I’m not a huge Michael Jackson fan anymore.  I thought the spectacle made over his death was ridiculous and the way people acted was embarrassing.  Still, Michael Jackson’s music was a big part of my childhood.  Thriller was one of the first tapes that I ever bought.  On display were Jackson’s iconic glove from Billy Jean, the outfit he wore for Bad, the jacket from Thriller, and a jacket he wore at the MTV music awards.  Seeing those things brought back a lot of memories from my childhood and that’s what I was hoping to accomplish at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  This was only one of a few displays that actually did that. 

There were a lot of costumes in this area.  None of which meant much to me, but probably would to a true Rock and Roll fan. 

We didn’t realize it, but this weekend was also the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock.  Once we found that out, we figured on a huge display.  Nope.  Just a few drawings, a contract rider, and a couple t-shirts. OK, there was a little more than that, but not much.  What was there was interesting….especially reading about how there were a lot of free things for concert goers.  I obviously don’t remember Woodstock, but I do remember Woodstock 94 and there were no freebies there.  All I remember MTV talking about was the lack of water and the vendors selling it for ridiculous amounts. 

After we finished the museum tour, we headed up to see what the other five levels had to offer.  Nothing was really as interesting as the basement level.  If you’re a guitar guy, there’s a great display of Les Paul guitars, but I know nothing about them and everything looked the same to me. 

Next to the cafe, there is the actual Hall of Fame.  We started to walk in, but didn’t go all the way threw.  It’s two levels of speeches. 

On the fifth and sixth floors are the big exhibit.  At this time, it was Bruce Springsteen.  This is the kind of detail I was hoping to see for some of the other bands.  There were two floors of concert posters, tickets, songbooks, guitars, and clothes.  In the top floor, there was a display that had Springsteen’s kitchen table and chairs.  On the table were the notebooks that he wrote some of his biggest hits in.  J noticed that table looked really familiar.  Upon further inspection, she realized it was the same table her parents have in their kitchen. 

One of the things that really amazed both of us were the notebooks….and this is true for all of the artists that had donated their original copies to the museum.  I don’t know what I thought would be used, but it’s fascinating to see these plain ol’ notebooks filled with handwritten song lyrics.  You know they had to be written down somewhere, but it’s interesting to see the thought process and the scribbles that go in notebooks that were probably purchased at K-Mart.

We ended up spending about an hour and fifteen minutes at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Our final stop was one last display that confused the heck out of me.  I’m familiar with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” but really didn’t know what it was.  Apparently, they have The Wall from the movie in the lobby area with the puppets and TV that were actually used in filming.  J had to explain it to me.  I’m not a music guy.

Conveniently enough, the escalator back to the bottom floor spits you out into the gift shop.  I purchased a shot glass for our collection and we headed out.  I’m really, really glad we made this impromptu trip.  Someone who is a music fan would have enjoyed it even more than I did, but I still enjoyed seeing all this history.  This was J’s second trip.  She and her mom made the trip the year the Hall opened because her mom is one of those people that love music and she passed that on to J. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is one of those places everyone should see at least once.  I’m not going to be in a big hurry to go back, but it’s one of the things I can cross off my list.  One down, two to go in Cleveland.

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