Some aging rockers -- yes, the Rolling Stones are on another tour -- just keep on rockin’. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 10 years old this month, still rocks too, but in a much quieter way.
The rock hall, trying to cope with a pattern of declining attendance, is low-key while marking its anniversary, in sharp contrast to its bold opening in 1995. And in typical fashion, it’s quietly expanding.
“We looked at what was appropriate,” said Terry Stewart, the hall’s chief executive. “We stepped back. Anniversaries are never like openings, and that was the most special event, a one-of-a-kind event.”
Ten years ago, thousands of people flocked to Cleveland for the opening. Yoko Ono, Little Richard and Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner cut a ceremonial ribbon on Sept. 1, 1995, outside of the hall. A benefit concert at the old Cleveland Stadium featured an array of artists that included Bruce Springsteen and Chuck Berry.
There was no special event on the actual anniversary date. But a museum exhibit about the Rock Hall’s 10 years is being prepared to open today.
Stewart said he is working on establishing the first endowment for the nonprofit, self-sufficient institution, which has 86 full-time employees and revenue last year of $15.1 million, and he is reshaping its board to add benefactors from across the nation instead of just from Cleveland.
Stewart also is working on plans to put traveling exhibits in satellite halls in some cities, starting with Memphis and Phoenix.
Another priority is a planned $10-million library and archive of rock music history in a new building at a Cleveland-area community college. Half the money is promised from the New York-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, the hall’s parent organization, which produces an annual induction ceremony usually held in New York.
Last year proved to be the hall’s weakest for attendance, with 413,000 visitors, down about 13% from 476,000 in 2003, the first year it drew less than 500,000. The totals are substantially lower than the 873,000 who came in 1996, the first full year.