Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Inside the museum where music history writes itself

It’s surprisingly easy to forget that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a brick-and-mortar place, given how many times the label “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee” has been used to assert a musician’s value – akin to a Grammy or an Oscar.

But the Hall is indeed that – a hall, or more so, a 150,000-square-foot building with a 162-foot tower and a double glass pyramid, located in Cleveland, Ohio.

The museum opened its doors on 2 September, 1995 with a mammoth concert featuring Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and Johnny Cash among other household names.

It has since operated as a repository for the history of rock and roll, updating its collection and hosting special events when circumstances dictate.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will announce its new inductees later this month, with the induction ceremony set to take place in Brooklyn, New York in March 2019.

In the meantime, here is everything you need to know, should you decide to become one of the hundreds of thousands of people (568,000 in 2017) who visit the museum each year:

Where is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame located?

1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard in Cleveland, Ohio, to be precise.

More broadly, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is part of Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, where it as a yearly economic impact of $199m, according to a study published in March 2018.

How can people visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Visitors who want to meander through six different levels of rock and roll history can purchase tickets online.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland, Ohio. (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

The museum is open every day from 10am to 5:30pm, except on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, when it is closed, and on Wednesdays, when it opens at 10am and closes at 9pm.

General admission costs $23 (£18) when tickets are purchased online ahead of time, and $26 (£20) on the day.

What are some of the artefacts on display?

New artefacts, which include one of Notorious BIG’s outfits and Jerry Lewis’s piano, are displayed on the ground floor.

Bon Jovi artefacts are displayed as part of the 2018 inductees exhibit. (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

On the same floor, the Legends of Rock exhibit hosts some of the most iconic objects in the hall, from Michael Jackson’s sequined glove to James Brown’s jumpsuit.

It is home to some unexpected items, including Jimi Hendrix’s cub scout uniform and Slash’s pinball machine.

An exhibit inside the museum pays tribute to the Beatles. (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

Drumsticks used by Ringo Starr during a Beatles concert in Cleveland on 15 September, 1964. (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

This Hofner Senator electric guitar used by John Lennon is one of many items on display at the museum. (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

Fans of the Beatles can see John Lennon’s elementary school report cards, as well as the drum kit used by Ringo Starr during the band’s last official show. 

The exhibit also includes artefacts from the Rolling Stones, the Doors, Blondie, David Bowie, Guns N’Roses, and The Who, among other famous names.

Who decides who gets into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Democracy – but not really. Yes, there is a vote, but suffrage is reserved to 1,000 experts – “artists, historians and members of the music industry” from around the world, per the Hall itself.

This year’s nominees are Def Leppard, Devo​, Janet Jackson, John Prine, Kraftwerk​, LL Cool J, MC5, Radiohead​, Rage Against the Machine, Roxy Music, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, The Cure, The Zombies, and Todd Rundgren.

Elvis Presley’s custom SuperTrike motorcycle, dating back to 1975, is displayed as part of the exhibit dedicated to the King. (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

The voting body will cast their ballots to pick the new inductees. Six people were inducted last year, and seven made the cut in 2017.

Fans also get a say in the vote and can cast their own ballot online.

Who are some of the most famous inductees?

As of 2018, the Rock &  Roll Hall of Fame has singled out 32 classes, 323 Inductee groups, and 827 individuals.

Some of the best known names on its roster are Janis Joplin, David Bowie, ABBA, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, Fleetwood Mac, Patti Smith, the Beatles, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Bon Jovi.

A Signature Wall inside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame pays tribute to each inductee. (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

Green Day, Cat Stevens, Donna Summer, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen, Madonna, Quincy Jones, Prince, Steely Dan, the Sex Pistols, Michael Jackson, the Guns N’ Roses, Elton John, the Jackson 5, Etta James, the Grateful Dead, the Kinks, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience are also on the roster.

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They are joined by Lou Reed, Metallica, Otis Redding​, Nirvana, the Velvet Underground, Woody Guthrie, The Clash, and the Supremes​ – and many other more.

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