A visit to The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism, a career-spanning conglomeration of memorabilia and multi-media currently on view in New York, conjures plenty of tongue wagging adjectives. Just don’t call it a museum.
The promoters bill it as much more than that. And quite frankly, they hit it right between the buttons. Exhibitionism serves as a deep dive immersion in Stonesness. The immense bombardment of sights, sounds and interaction requires you to block out at least three hours to lap it up proper.
However, in the digital era of short attention spans and time-crunching schedules, some may choose to breeze through. If that’s the case, make sure and keep an eye open for these five not-to-miss things at Exhibitionism. Make sure and catch it before it leaves in March.
The Chelsea Flat
In 1962, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones moved into a flat in Chelsea, London. By ’63, drummer Charlie Watts was bunking there, too. Although no photos exist, the Exhibitionism curators took descriptive anecdotes from Mick, Keith and Charlie to recreate the tiny, dingy apartment. Watts says it was a “pigsty.” True to his description, visitors walk right through the trashed digs where blues albums fan out across the floor, and mounds of beer bottles and dirty dishes serve as monuments of consumption. Thank goodness it’s not a scratch-and-sniff experience.
Keith Richards’ 1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty
Oodles of instruments can be seen at Exhibitionsim, including the bass Bill Wyman used during his audition. Yet, this one rises to the top. Keef’s beloved ax bares fruits of his artistic labors. “Yeah, I painted that,” reads the Richards quote on the guitar display. “I was bored, waiting to go to jail” due to a 1967 drug bust. The multi-colored, psychedelic scribblings, including a half moon, came courtesy of paint pens. Keef wielded the guitar during the Olympic Studio sessions. The Godard flick “Sympathy for the Devil” captures Richards playing it on celluloid.
Interactive Stones Tracks
Located in the same room as the Black Beauty, you’ll find an interactive touch screen, which allows visitors to remix Stones tracks by isolating instruments and vocals. Equal parts playful and insightful, it gives you the ability to closely examine the band’s musicality. Put the spotlight on Jagger’s vox on “Rocks Off,” from the “Exile on Main St.” album, and you’ll hear the rugged beauty of bluesy white boy pipes. It’s simultaneously imperfect and perfect all at once.
Mick Jagger’s “Sympathy for the Devil” Stage Duds
Guests have the opportunity to walk into the band’s rock ‘n’ roll wardrobe closet for bright and bold look at their stage garb from throughout its more than 50-year career. Mick’s outfit from the 1994 Voodoo Lounge tour, which he donned during “Sympathy for the Devil,” remains a definite highlight. Its top hat and tail coat feature bling fitting for a voodoo priest, including a rabbit’s foot and chicken feet.
Art and Design
The Stones’ penchant for pairing its music with appropriate visuals proves to be serious business. Original album and poster artwork, mock-up stage models, handwritten notes and more show the Stones experience has always been more than simply melodic. From Warhol’s work on “Sticky Fingers” to the “Some Girls” wig ad art, the album art alone demands its own exhibit. The dynamic cover art to “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” painted by Guy Peellaert, begs to break through its display glass. Pen and ink drawings rendered by Jagger and Watts on hotel stationary gives evidence how the members control the band’s image.
The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism, 775 Washington St., New York, N.Y. stonesexhibitionism.com.