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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Standing at the terminus of Cleveland’s East Ninth Street where it meets the shore of Lake Erie is The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (locally referred to simply as The Rock Hall).
Designed by renowned architect I. M. Pei as a glass pyramid cascading from a stout tiled tower, The Rock Hall opened in September of 1995, marking Cleveland as ‘the home of rock ‘n roll’. The city fought hard for that honor, beating out such cities as Memphis, Nashville, Detroit, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and New York City by means of a massive petition drive, ballot-stuffing of a USA Today poll, and a subsidy of $65 million to fund the Hall’s construction. Though The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation had actually formed as far back as 1983, it took twelve homeless years for the stars to align, and for all financial and legal affairs to be resolved, for The Rock Hall to eventually stage its ribbon-cutting ceremony and concert.
The seven-story Rock Hall was initially designed to have a substantially taller tower; its height was reduced to accommodate flight paths to nearby Burke Lakefront Airport. Among its levels are both permanent and traveling exhibits, including a number of interactive displays and presentations, as well as a restaurant and music store. The Rock Hall displays the changing wardrobe of rock and roll — and some jazz, blues, rockabilly, punk and rap — through the years, and has an audio collection of the 500 songs that shaped popular music. Exhibits and presentations rise level above level within the soaring glass prism of the Hall’s pyramid. Also on display are many artifacts of rock: U2’s suspended automobiles, portions of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, John Lennon’s hand-painted psychedelic Rolls, noted guitars and drumsticks, etc. Over the years, significant traveling exhibitions have profiled major rock acts, artists, tours and genres.
Each year, various music performers, groups and affiliated artists are inducted into The Rock Hall — after 25 years in the public eye, and after recognition by a sufficient number of votes of the members of Museum’s nominating board. Currently, there are about 100 different artists memorialized by engraved plaques on one of The Rock Hall’s upper levels. Each year, an induction ceremony and concert are held to honor new inductees; Cleveland will host the events every third year.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum presents a unique profile adjacent to Voinovich Park and its docked Lake cruise ships. The Great Lakes Science Center (with the docked museum steamship William G. Mather) sits just west of The Rock Hall, with Cleveland Browns Stadium still farther west along the lakeshore.