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