Situated on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a mecca for lovers of the rock genre and a fun and educational venue for all ages. Part of the redeveloped North Coast Harbor area, the museum is housed in a spectacular I.M Pei-designed building featuring a tower and a glittering glass pyramid protruding from its top.
Opened in 1995, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was in the planning stages for more than a dozen years prior to that time. Several cities were considered for the honor, including New York and Memphis. However, Cleveland was chosen because it was the location of disc jockey Alan Freed, who is credited with coining the term "rock and roll'' and promoting the genre on the radio. Cleveland also presented museum founders with an attractive financial package that helped prompt the decision.
This ultra-modern building consists of seven levels. The first five levels of the museum include permanent exhibits profiling the history of Rock and Roll in the United States and around the world. Specifically, one area looks at the roots of the genre and its connection to other styles of music including bluegrass, gospel, blues, and country. Another highlights the music scenes - past and present - of some of Rock and Roll's most important cities, including Detroit, New York, Memphis, and Liverpool (England). Other exhibits focus on the lives and work of particular artists who are legends in the Rock world including Les Paul, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and others. Temporary exhibits are housed in the smaller top two floors of the museum.
The museum owns tens of thousands of artifacts related to the genre and the collection continues to grow. Some have been donated by the artists themselves or by their families. Others come from private collections that have been donated or willed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Many are on display. Items include Janis Joplin's 1965 Porsche, Chuck Berry's electric guitar, a Who drum head, several pieces of clothing from Fats Domino, and much, much more. Exhibits change on occasion so that more of the items can be visible to the public.
The Hall of Fame portion of the museum is located on the third floor. Each year, performers and non-performers (record producers, disc jockeys, songwriters, concert promoters, etc.) are inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony usually held in New York City. There are also "early influences'' and "sidemen'' categories as well as a Life Achievement section of the museum. About 5 inductees from each category are added each year.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland is open 365 days a year with extended touring hours on Wednesday evenings. Group tours are available. Dining and shopping opportunities are located inside the museum.