“I have always loved The Rolling Stones,” Ileen Gallagher, The Rolling Stones Exhibit curator, tells us. “I grew up when it was The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones. I was always drawn to the Stones — they were more dangerous and sexy.”

The ongoing battle between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones is a tale as old as time (read: the ’60s). At Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, it is the latter showcased in an exhibit of fashion, instruments, paraphernalia and art. Even if you preferred the wholesomeness of The Beatles to the edginess of The Stones, you cannot deny the cultural impact the band has had. “The exhibit is about the impact on popular culture,” Ileen continues. Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones Exhibit, opened March 29 at Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum and runs through June.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones Exhibit, opened March 29 at Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum and runs through June.

A thematic approach was applied to the exhibit, with galleries titled Meet the Band, Edith Grove, Recording, Recording Collaborators, Music and Lyrics, Iconic Logo, Stage Design, Film, Style and Backstage Access. With items from the band’s private archive, 190 original works of art, interactive sound mixing desks, fashions worn on stage and a 3D concert finale, the galleries take you through the band’s journey as The Rolling Stones, as well as the lasting impact on art, fashion, film and, of course, music. You’ll gain perspective on this journey and even get a glimpse of how they lived. A recreation of the Edith Grove flat that Mick, Keith, James and Brian shared in 1962 mimics their living situation — down to the mess and stench of four grown men, plus regular guests, who smoked piles of cigarettes and left piles of empty beer bottles. “It was a pig sty, basically. It was pretty much what four young guys can do to a joint in a very short amount of time,” Keith recalls in the exhibit.

“The exhibition is proudly presented and delivered by DHL and supported by Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®) in conjunction with global promoter TEG and producer iEC Exhibitions,” according to the press release. We spoke with Barry Stowe, Chairman and CEO of Jackson®, and he spoke to his instrumental role in bringing the exhibit to North America and Nashville. “We had the opportunity to bring this exhibit as a gift to the people and our customers, who tend to be Baby Boomers. The Rolling Stones were the soundtrack for their lives.” We discussed how the exhibit will be viewed differently by everyone. The dad who saw The Rolling Stones in Madison Square Garden in 1969 will have a different experience than me, who saw The Rolling Stones in Nashville in 2015. “There is an emotional connection,” Barry says. “The exhibition highlights the impact The Rolling Stones had not just on music, but on culture, fashion, design and art. In many ways, their constant innovation — musically and artistically — is indicative of the change the Baby Boomers ushered in more broadly,” Barry says. “A lot changed in 40 years, and The Rolling Stones were emblematic of those changes.”

“I suspect it will blow you away,” Barry offered before I stepped inside the exhibit. And it did. The experience is immersive and stimulating. At first, you won’t know where to look or if you should focus on the video interviews or music playing. But quickly, you will settle into the easy-to-navigate galleries and lose yourself in the history of The Rolling Stones.

For fear of detracting from the magic that comes with seeing the pieces in the exhibit for the first time, I will refrain from sharing everything in detail. Instead, I will tease you with a few photos.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Ladies and gentlemen, The Rolling Stones!

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Jump right in to all the exhibit has to offer!

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

In December of 1963, The Rolling Stones started their first British tour.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Pages from Keith Richards’ diary, 1963

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Art and artifacts dating back to the start of The Rolling Stones’ career give a detailed history of their journey in music and culture.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

The exhibit wouldn’t be complete without the band’s instruments. Imagine if this drum kit could talk …

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

A recreation of the Edith Grove apartment captures the mess, smell and feel of the original.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Are these the actual cigarettes they smoked? Maybe. Really? No.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Olympic Sound Studios Tape Box, February, 1970

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Peek into the studio and learn about the producer’s role, a good take and recording technology.

Mick Jagger Lyric Book, Miss You, c. 1976 (center)

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Many of the band’s logbooks, including this one for Tattoo You, are found in the exhibit.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

You might recognize this hand-painted Gibson guitar from the Jean-Luc Godard film Symphony for the Devil.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Artwork and posters are reflective of the impact The Rolling Stones had on artistic culture, and vice versa.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

“I think it stood the test of time because it’s a universal statement. Sticking out your tongue at something is very anti-authority and a protest, really. Maybe young people of various generations pick that up. I’m amazed now, and probably always will be, that it’s traveled so far round the world,” John Pasche is quoted in the exhibit as saying about the iconic logo.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Andy Warhol was asked by The Stones to create an album cover for Sticky Fingers, and the relationship quickly developed.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Some Girls cover, 1978

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Four stages are filled with clothing worn by the band on and off stage.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

The costumes are truly spectacular.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Take a tour backstage to see instruments, a dressing room and stage directions before watching a concert from the wings of the stage (during a 3-D concert experience).

Nashville is the fourth and final U.S. stop on the tour, which launched at Sacchi Gallery in London before making its way to New York City’s Industria in the West Village, Chicago’s Navy Pier and The Palazzo in Las Vegas.

Exhibitionism is on display at Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum and runs through June.

The Rolling Stones Exhibit is Pure Satisfaction

Five stations of the iconic logo can be found around town: outside the home of the exhibit at the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum; outside Ascend Amphitheater; at the Music City Walk of Fame; across from the “I Believe in Nashville” sign in the 12South neighborhood; and at the baggage claim area at Nashville International Airport. Fans who post photos with the iconic logo will be entered to win exhibit tickets and other prizes.

Trust us, the photos don’t come close to doing it justice. Go see it for yourself!

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