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Rock Hall Opens 'Garage' Where Visitors Can Jam

A visitor previews the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's new "Garage." [Rock Hall]

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is known for showcasing musicians' costumes, instruments and memorabilia. But now visitors can play music there, too, in the "Garage." The $2 million exhibit opens to the public today on the second floor of the Rock Hall.

“It’s all about energizing and inspiring,” said Rock Hall Vice President and Chief Curator Karen Herman.

In reflecting upon the museum’s more than two decades in Cleveland, Herman said it was important to design a space for visitors to make music.

“Every visitor can come in and try it,” she said.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Vice President and Chief Curator Karen Herman [Rock Hall]

The exhibit caters to both newbies and experts. For instance, someone could pick up a guitar for the first time and take a video lesson while another visitor jams with friends or museum staff.  

The space itself looks like the inside of a garage with posters on the wall, which are replicas from the museum’s collection. The instruments are new — no one’s playing Les Paul’s guitar — but some artifacts are on display in cases nearby for inspiration.

“You can see everyone has to start somewhere,” Herman said.

A team was hired to assist visitors with the instruments and keep them tuned.

With the launch of the exhibit, staff will observe how people use the space and adjust.

“If no one touches the basses and everyone wants to play the keys, we add more keys,” Herman said. “We’ll switch it up based on what people are feeling, thinking and telling us.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's new "Garage" on the second floor of the museum. [Rock Hall]

Carrie Wise is the deputy editor of arts and culture at Ideastream Public Media.