Saturday, January 22, 2011

REWIND: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex (NYC, 2009)

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC entrance on Mercer Street in Soho.
It's been one year since the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's New York City Annex closed in January 2010 after opening a year earlier in 2009. Reports indicate the attraction fell victim to the economy and a down year for city tourism. But in a city with an extensive rock heritage, it appears some fault may be in the creation of the museum.

Banners above the entrance.
After a visit in June 2009, the experience was underwhelming especially at the cost of $26.50 for an adult ticket. Unlike other tourist attractions located as close to Times Square as possible, the museum was located on a quiet street in Soho in the basement that used to house an Old Navy store. The entrance wasn't particularly inviting.

The experience included a holding room where hundreds of plaques with autographs of music legends filled the walls as their music played. Then in a small auditorium a short feature about the history of rock and roll was screened. After that was the exhibition of memorabilia. Among them was Elvis Presley's motorcycle jacket, a handwritten note from Jim Morrison, John Lennon's Record Plant Piano and Bruce Springsteen's 1957 Chevy. It was unfortunate that photography was not allowed. The ubiquitous gift shop at the end lacked any enticing merchandise to commemorate the visit.

The $9 million cost of the 25,000-foot-annex was not obvious. Depending on visitor interest in the museum displays, it's likely most would be able to see the exhibit in an hour. I'm a fan of pop music artists spanning different decades and was even a devoted listener of the American Top 40 on radio for over 20 years. But after an equally unimpressive visit to the British Music Experience at the O2 in London in 2010, it may appear the genre of music and one as expansive as rock and roll may be too difficult to encapsulate in a museum visit.

For more information about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, visit Opportunities for a tour that would bring artifacts to audiences around the world was being explored at the time of closing of the annex.

Some of the memorabilia on display (image: broadwayworld)


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