For the first time, a major museum exhibition will examine the instruments of rock and roll at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Through more than 130 instruments dating from 1939 to 2017—Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll will explore one of the most influential artistic movements of the 20th century. Rock and roll’s seismic influence was felt across culture and society. Early rock musicians were attracted to the wail of the electric guitar and the distortion of early amplifiers, a sound that became forever associated with rock music and its defining voice. The instruments used in rock and roll had a profound impact on this art form that forever changed music.
“With its outstanding collection and comprehensive Department of Musical Instruments, The Met has for decades exhibited, celebrated, and contextualized the global artistic vision and extraordinary craftsmanship involved in developing musical instruments,” said Max Hollein, Director of the Museum. “Play It Loud celebrates a formative chapter in 20th-century art and culture, and the extraordinary objects featured in this presentation convey the innovation, experimentation, passion, and rebellion at the heart of rock and roll. The exhibition allows us to appreciate the artistry of the instruments as well as their powerful role in the creation and expression of rock’s legendary sound and identity.”
Organized thematically, Play It Loud will explore how musicians embraced and advanced emerging technologies; the phenomenon of the “Guitar Gods;” the crafting of a visual identity through the use of instruments; and the destruction of instruments in some live performances, one of rock’s most defining gestures. The exhibition will include many of rock’s most celebrated instruments, including such guitars as Jimi Hendrix’s electric guitar “Love Drops,” originally decorated by him; Eric Clapton’s “Blackie,” Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein,” Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf,” and Joan Jett’s “Melody Maker,” and drums from Keith Moon’s “Pictures of Lily” drum set. By displaying several rigs used in live performances and sound recordings, the exhibition will also demonstrate how artists created their own individual sounds, and some 40 vintage posters, costumes, and performance videos will illustrate key components of the musical movement’s visual style and impact.
The exhibition is co-organized with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and runs April 8 through October 1.