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Visitors Can Rock the Rock Hall in The Garage

photo of Darryl DMC McDaniels
Rock Hall inductee Darryl DMC McDaniels inaugurated the jam space at The Garage, the new exhibit that includes real instruments for visitors to try out and learn songs with.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s new interactive exhibit, The Garage, opens Monday – allowing visitors to play real musical instruments.

There are bass guitars, drums, guitars and keyboards in the space, where people can play individually, watch a tutorial, or jam with other visitors. Inductee Darryl DMC McDaniels (2009) cut the ribbon on The Garage, and says it’s a fitting homage to the place where rock’s spirit lives.

“A lot of people think it’s the stadiums – no! A lot of people thought it was the theaters – no! They even thought it was the discos – no! It all starts in the garage. So what we’re doing is honoring the birthplace of the greatness.”

Jason Hanley, VP of education at the Rock Hall, says he hopes visitors come away realizing they don’t have to be inductees to play music.

“Rock and roll is something they can be part of. It’s not something that’s on a wall in a museum. I think that’s the amazing part of this exhibit: it tells you, ‘you can play rock and roll.’ The other thing I think is amazing is, everything in here is real. It’s not fake toy instruments. You’re getting to pick up an actual Les Paul guitar or sit down at a real keyboard and play.”

The Garage also features Hanley and others providing video tutorials on how to play a selection of popular songs by artists including Nirvana and Otis Redding. And there’s a machine where visitors can design a band logo and merchandise.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.