You can’t always get what you want, but if its a chance to see memorabilia of the greatest rock and roll n band ever, you have to find some how to get yourself to Chicago this summer. I was fortunate to be included in a press opening of the new Exhibition in Chicago for the Rolling Stones called well “Exhibitionism”. The traveling museum has made its way to Chicago’s Navy Pier and will be there until the end of July. What you will see is pretty close to what they are billing it as: “The Ultimate Rock and Roll Exhibit.” Well its not quite the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; however, it is a highly interactive, well designed tour de force of the band that has been rocking our worlds for 50 years.
The walk thru exhibit begins chronologically with a rather cute foray into what it was like to be a Rolling Stone before “Satisfaction.” We are presented with a life-size reproduction of their living quarters as youths on the rise, complete with LPs scattered about messy rooms. Its a nice way of introducing you to their humble beginnings and their key influences. From their the exhibit becomes a travelogue of concerts, fashion and cultural touch points. It’s part art museum, part interactive experience.
With over 500 artifacts and modern technology offering immersive experiences, this is an outing even a casual Rolling Stone fan (if any of those real exists) would enjoy. You would not be rushed from looking on in awe at the architectural drawings of their massive stages throughout the years or the adventure down the runway of fashions from five decades awash. Like to look at Keith Richard’s guitars or read detailed notes on Stones’ studio recordings? Go ahead take your time, its took 50 years to assemble so enjoy.
The interactivity reaches it peak in the studio recreation screens. Here guests are allowed to don headphones and become a part of a recording session where you get to play engineer or producer. Take your pick of songs from the vast catalogue of hits and then manipulate the recordings by isolating any instrument. Don’t like the released mix of “Some Girls”? Rework it yourself by raising the keyboards or lowering the thumping bass. It’s a lot of fun and it gives you a real sense of the depth of the Rolling Stones’ songs. You might get lost in this part and its only halfway trough your journey.
This temporary tribute to the Stones is not cheap. Ticket prices start near $40 and the gift shop prizes are down right vulgar; however, this is the real stuff. There are no substitutes. The Stones sensed they were making history ever step of the way and kept a ridiculous amount of actual artifacts from their journeys. From the meticulous detail on studio master tapes to Charlie Watts’ drums, its all here in its rock and roll glory. I think the name (Exhibitionism) is awful but the show is downright engaging both in detail and in interactivity. If you do book a trip to Chicago be sure to check out the map on their website pointing out various locations you can visit in person in the Windy City where the Stones once rolled and will probably will again.