Rock Hall’s $2M ex­hibit in­ter­ac­tive

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Valley Life -

CLEVE­LAND (AP) — Imag­ine stand­ing in­side rock ‘n’ roll’s hal­lowed ground with the gui­tar sounds of Deep Pur­ple’s “Smoke on The Wa­ter” blar­ing above your head.

Only it’s not just Ritchie Black­more play­ing it. It’s you, learn­ing his iconic riff in record time. That’s the magic of the In­ter­ac­tive Garage, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s new in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibit, un­like any­thing the mu­seum has ever put to­gether.

The In­ter­ac­tive Garage, which opened to the pub­lic on Mon­day, al­lows vis­i­tors to play ac­tual in­stru­ments by them­selves, along­side friends or strangers at the mu­seum. Trained pro­fes­sion­als are avail­able on screen and in per­son to as­sist as you learn Beastie Boys’ “Sab­o­tage” on gui­tar, Queen’s “We Will Rock You” on drums or Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” on key­board, among other clas­sics.

“We’re tak­ing ev­ery­thing we’ve learned from our vis­i­tors and we’re go­ing be­yond the con­ven­tional mu­seum pre­sen­ta­tion and into a hands-on in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Greg Har­ris, CEO and pres­i­dent of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “It’s an­other ma­jor step for­ward for our or­ga­ni­za­tion, which has al­ways been great, but we just con­tinue to evolve, grow, change and cre­ate a much more im­pact­ful vis­ual ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The ex­hibit is bro­ken up into four main parts. There is the guest room where play­ers of any skill level can try top of the line gui­tars, key­boards, bass gui­tars and drums. Each song fea­tures guided in­struc­tion from one of the Rock Hall’s ed­u­ca­tors via a recorded video. The Rock Hall has also hired and trained a new staff of “mu­si­cian teach­ers” who will be on hand to help guests.

Vis­i­tors won’t get to play ac­tual ar­ti­facts (i.e. Jimi Hen­drix’s gui­tar or Geddy Lee’s bass). But the guest room does fea­ture top of the line key­boards, mix­ing boards, bass gui­tars, drums and elec­tric gui­tars, from Gib­son to Fender to Martin.

The In­ter­ac­tive Garage also fea­tures an acous­tic lounge with soft leather seat­ing, where vis­i­tors can hop on acous­tic gui­tars and ukule­les for pop-up group jams. Then there’s the jam room, which houses vin­tage gear and is set up as a re­hearsal stu­dio where guests can play to­gether.

Round­ing out the ex­pe­ri­ence is a sta­tion where vis­i­tors can cre­ate their own cus­tom mer­chan­dise in­spired by some of your fa­vorite bands or mu­sic pe­ri­ods like the British In­va­sion or rise of punk rock.

Har­ris says the In­ter­ac­tive Garage, which takes up the mu­seum’s en­tire sec­ond floor, cost $2 mil­lion. The project is part of the mu­seum’s multi-year, multi-mil­lion dol­lar trans­for­ma­tion plan that’s in­cluded the new Hall of Fame Floor and Power of Rock Ex­pe­ri­ence in the Con­nor The­ater, both on Level 3.

Stand­ing in­side the In­ter­ac­tive Garage, even un­fin­ished (Cleve­land.com was treated to a sneak peek even be­fore the of­fi­cial me­dia preview) is quite the ex­pe­ri­ence. As a vis­i­tor, you sim­ply walk up to a gui­tar sta­tion and scan your ad­mis­sion wrist­band.

Next, you grab a gui­tar pick, choose a gui­tar and plug in. Af­ter you se­lect a song to play, one of the mu­seum’s ed­u­ca­tors ap­pears on screen. From there you play along, via in­struc­tion, to one of the great­est songs in rock ‘n’ roll his­tory.

Above you there is a sound sys­tem that plays ev­ery noise you make on your in­stru­ment. Vis­i­tors can record the video of them­selves play­ing and send it to their per­sonal email ac­count.

Just 10 feet from you in each di­rec­tion, some­one else is hav­ing the same ex­pe­ri­ence, whether on acous­tic gui­tar, bass, key­board or in­side one of two drum rooms. Scat­tered around you are iconic con­cert posters of ev­ery­one from Elvis and Nir­vana to U2 and B.B. King. The wall lead­ing into the guest room is cov­ered with the im­age of rock band Wilco’s own sto­ried re­hearsal space.

In­spi­ra­tion for such an im­mer­sive ex­hibit came from var­i­ous vis­i­tor sur­veys over the past sev­eral years. But mo­ti­va­tion for the phys­i­cal blue­print and lo­gis­tics came from all over the coun­try.

Har­ris and his team vis­ited mu­se­ums in Ari­zona, Colorado and Seat­tle that have ex­per­i­mented with au­dio ex­pe­ri­ences. Per­haps the best com­par­i­son is with the Mu­seum of Pop Cul­ture in Seat­tle and its Sound Lab.

The ex­hibit fea­tures rooms for gui­tars, drums, key­boards, turnta­bles, amps and more and is de­scribed as “Mul­ti­me­dia in­stal­la­tions in­vite hands-on in­ter­ac­tion so that vis­i­tors can ex­plore the tools of rock ‘n’ roll through elec­tric gui­tars, drums, sam­plers, mix­ing con­soles, and more.”

The In­ter­ac­tive Garage is likely to be one of, if not the most pop­u­lar at­trac­tion at the Rock Hall upon open­ing. Thus, Har­ris says the mu­seum has de­vised a sys­tem where vis­i­tors en­ter and exit over pe­ri­ods of time so the ex­hibit doesn’t be­come too crowded.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame CEO and pres­i­dent Greg Har­ris poses in­side the mu­seum’s new In­ter­ac­tive Garage ex­hibit in Cleve­land. The ex­hibit, which opened to the pub­lic on Mon­day, al­lows vis­i­tors to play ac­tual in­stru­ments by them­selves, along­side friends or strangers at the mu­seum.

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