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Play It Loud, a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, showcases 130 instruments used by legendary musicians including the Beatles, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton.

Metropolitan Museum Showcases
Rock History

First-of-its-kind exhibit displays 130 instruments used by groundbreaking artists from Chuck Berry to Lady Gaga.

IN A FIRST FOR A MAJOR MUSEUM, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is showcasing a collection of iconic rock ’n’ roll instruments in a new exhibition aptly titled Play It Loud. Co-organized with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the exhibit presents 130 instruments alongside posters and costumes.

From Jimmy Page to Steve Miller, the glitterati of rock turned out for the exhibition’s opening bash on April 1. The Roots shook the house with a rousing live performance as the crowd wandered through a sequence of galleries filled with musical instruments that had been graced by the hands of artists spanning the entire rock era—from Chuck Berry, to all four Beatles, to instruments played by contemporary stars such as Lady Gaga and St. Vincent. The show covers the entire span of rock history—Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drumkit from The Ed Sullivan Show, Bob Dylan’s Newport Strat, Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock Strat, Prince’s Super Bowl 2007 symbol guitar, and full stage rigs from icons including Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.

Jeff Beck’s stage rig from the 1966 Yardbirds tour was one of the artifacts on display.

Jayson Kerr Dobney, Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge of the Department of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, collaborated on the show with the Rock Hall’s Curator and Director of Acquisition Craig Inciardi. In his research for the show, Dobney found inspiration in the book Play it Loud, authored by Alan diPerna and Brad Tolinski. “The book was an inspiration not only in terms of the show’s title but also in terms of the conceptual ideas that we ended up adopting,” he said. “What we have with the Play It Loud exhibition is the largest concentration of mojo between four walls that the world has ever seen,” commented co-author di Perna. “As a native New Yorker and rock ’n’ roller, it fills me with tremendous pride to have played a small role in this historic exhibition.”

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