Rock on, New York! Hall of Fame goes on the road

Thursday, August 21, 2008

NEW YORK -- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is going on the road to New York -- the city that spawned hip-hop and gave Bob Dylan and the Ramones their start.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week that the Cleveland-based museum is opening an annex in downtown Manhattan. It is the first of several planned outposts that will take its collection of artifacts to a wider audience, possibly as far as the Middle East.

Billy Joel and Clive Davis joined the mayor at the location in SoHo where the branch will open in November. Joel, who said he was donating some memorabilia to the museum, recalled how he has played every New York venue from Carnegie Hall to Shea Stadium.

"New York gave me my words and my music, and rock 'n' roll gave me a place for that music to live," Joel said.

The 25,000-square-foot annex will house Bruce Springsteen's 1957 Chevy and will feature a number of different exhibits, including one with sites around the city that have musical significance.

"There really isn't a more fitting spot for this museum than New York, the hometown of hall of famers like the Velvet Underground, Paul Simon and Blondie ... this is where Ed Sullivan met the Beatles, where Lou Reed took a walk on the wild side," Bloomberg said.

Museum officials are counting on the branches to provide new revenue streams, attract more philanthropy dollars and entice more people to visit the hall of fame in Cleveland.

Another annex being planned for Las Vegas will be located on or near the Strip and will be less focused on rock artifacts and more entertainment oriented, according to Terry Stewart, president and chief executive officer of the rock museum. A city has not been selected for the proposed Middle East branch.

The annexes mark the museum's first effort to build a presence outside of Cleveland, following a trend set by other museums like the Guggenheim and the Louvre.

In the past year the hall has announced some notable changes, including a major interior renovation of its lakefront museum and the return of the induction ceremony to Cleveland in 2009 after more than a decade-long absence. Most of the ceremonies had been held in New York City.

The New York annex will be open for a minimum of two years, longer if it proves successful.

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