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Iconic Rock Instruments to Exhibit at Metropolitan Museum of Art

Instruments used by Beatles, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and more will be included

Van Halen - Eddie Van HalenVan Halen in concert on the 'Fair Warning' tour at Madison Square Garden, New York, America - 17 Jul 1981

Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstein guitar will be displayed at the Met as part of the museum's new exhibit on rock & roll instruments.

Mediapunch/REX Shutterstock

The first major art museum exhibition dedicated to the instruments of rock & roll will go on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art starting April 8th, 2019.  

The exhibit, titled Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll, will feature more than 130 instruments that were used by artists including the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Metallica, Jimmy Page, Steve Miller, St. Vincent, The Rolling Stones and more. The collection, which features instruments spanning 1939 to 2017, will explore rock & roll and the objects that made the genre possible. 

Curated from 70 private and public collections in the United States and the United Kingdom, most of the pieces have never been seen apart from their performances onstage. Some of the featured items will include Eric Clapton’s “Blackie,” Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein,” and Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf.” Attendees will also be able to view Keith Emerson’s Moog synthesizer and Hammond organ, and drums from Keith Moon’s “Pictures of Lily” drum set. Forty vintage posters, iconic stage costumes and historic videos will be accompanying the instruments.

Jimi Hendrix’s Flying V. Photo credit: Collection of William C. Butler, Vanderpool, Tex., Courtesy of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Other highlights of the collection include Chuck Berry’s main guitar from 1957 to 1963, Jimmy Page’s “dragon-embroidered costume” worn during Led Zeppelin’s live shows from 1975 to 1977 and St. Vincent’s electric guitar from 2017 alongside a sculpture crafted from the remainder of Pete Townshend’s electric guitars after he destroyed the instrument in a 1973 Rolling Stone photo shoot of The Who with Annie Leibovitz. 

The exhibition will be on display at the Met through October 1st, 2019, before moving to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in November 2019. The Met and Rock Hall first collaborated 20 years ago on an exhibit called Rock Style.

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