While pairing events, books, concert tours, etc. with album releases is PR 101, pairing an album release with a museum exhibit it something that only a few bands can pull off. One example is Nirvana: Earlier this year, Kurt Cobain’s estate authorized a traveling exhibit of his artwork and, back in 2011, an entire exhibit (hosted by the Seattle’s Experience Music Project) was dedicated to the band.
This month in New York City, the Rolling Stones unveiled Exhibitionism which is open now through March 2017. Described as an “immersive and interactive exhibit” that “tells the story of the most influential rock and roll band in the world,” Exhibitionism starts at the beginning with the band’s early days and goes through their journey of becoming icons. Nine gallery spaces showcase 500 items including stage costumes, instruments, lyric books, touring paraphernalia, album art, photography, stage designs, diaries, and behind-the-scenes footage, among other artifacts.
Like the Cobain exhibit, which was put together with the help of his family and surviving bandmates, Exhibitionism was created with full cooperation from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood which of course makes all the difference for a display of this magnitude. Because the band has been at the forefront of rock and roll for five decades, both musically and culturally, total cooperation allows audiences to have the story told from their point of view. According to curator Ileen Gallagher, “The quotes on the wall and all of the text in the exhibition is in the voice of the band or people who work very closely with them. You’re actually having the band tell you what happened at the time.”
In an effort to cover the full scale of the Rolling Stones’ impact on pop culture, original instruments played by members of the band, artwork created for them by legendary artists like Andy Warhol, and handwritten lyrics to iconic songs like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “‘Miss You” are all included. According to the exhibit’s website, Exhibitionism “is the largest touring experience of its kind to be staged by any band or artist, and continues the Stones’ proud tradition of ground-breaking innovation combined with the highest production values.” Exhibitionism officially debuted in April in London, England and ran through September of this year. The exhibit is slated to debut in Sydney, Australia in November 2018.
Although the exhibit would be exciting for any Stones fan to visit, not everyone will be making the trip to New York, London, or Sydney. But no worries. Fans can look forward to a new album on December 2! Blue & Lonesome is their first studio album since 2005’s A Bigger Bang and is the band’s 25th American studio album. It also marks the first time the Rolling Stones are releasing an album that is comprised solely of cover songs. Featuring tracks by blues greats like Buddy Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Memphis Slim, and Willie Dixon, the album is meant to be an homage to the music that laid down the roots of rock and roll.
Looking forward to playing the Rolling Stones’ newest album in my new house on December 2 – if that’s not a great housewarming gift from the music world I don’t know what is!