Pop music got the institutional treatment with the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 1995. But these days, you don’t have to travel to Ohio to groove on shows that celebrate the artistry and attitudes of the music world’s movers and shakers. In 2014, the Museum of Contemporary Art presented “David Bowie Is” and now, there’s “Exhibitionism,” an artifact-crammed chronicle of The Rolling Stones. Originated by Australian-based iEC Exhibitions! and curated by Ileen Gallagher, it opens on Navy Pier April 15.
Featuring costumes, instruments, video, album art and much more (including a recreation of a humble Chelsea flat that roommates Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones defiled back in 1962), the show explores the evolution of the band and the ways in which its music, behavior and fashion sense have reflected and redefined pop culture over the past five decades.
“Exhibitionism” — assembled in part from the band’s own archive — promises to offer an experience that echoes the sensory stimulation that is the foundation of rock and roll, Stones style. “To best showcase the Stones, we created immersive environments that amplify aspects of their career,” Gallagher says. “For example, rather than just exhibit the instruments that they used on platforms or in cases, we created an [area] that was inspired by Olympic Studios, where they recorded for many years. And we show video of the band in Olympic to [make it feel like they’ve] just been there recording.”
What’s more, Gallagher has worked hard to root the show in a deep context, illustrating the band’s admiration for Chicago blues, or charting the way it stewarded its image through relationships with such media-savvy folks as photographer David Bailey and artist Andy Warhol. And while much will be familiar to fans, many may never have seen the boys in their earliest days, done up in matching checked blazers, tailored to reassure nervous parents; or remember that the Stones were the first band to play Prague following the Velvet Revolution. Sure, it’s only rock ’n’ roll. But you’ll like it.
April 15-July 30, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand. For tickets ($25-$40, $80 VIP), visit Stonesexhibitionism.com