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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates the social and cultural impact rock and roll has had on the world and the musicians who pioneered the art form. Artifacts from artists like Elvis, Otis Redding, the Beatles, Run DMC, Lady Gaga, and countless other artists are on display throughout the museum. Special events are held on various occasions, and the exhibits are changed fairly regularly. New inductees to the Hall of Fame are added each year.


  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 1995. It was designed by architect I.M. Pei.
  • Inside the museum. Photo by Adam Jones.
  • "Our mission [is] to engage, teach and inspire fans and artists through the power of rock and roll." President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Harris. Photo from museum website.

Over twenty-five years ago, various leaders of the music industry created the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in New York City. The goal of the foundation was to celebrate musicians and their music that changed the world. They began to plan a museum that would house memorabilia of the musicians who were inducted into the hall of fame. Initially, they hoped to find a location in New York City, but in 1985, representatives from the city of Cleveland and the state of Ohio approached the foundation with plans for a museum that would be much larger than any place they had found in New York. 

In January 1986, the first induction ceremony took place in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and focused on music legends such as Elvis, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, James Brown, and multiple others. The search for a location for the museum continued, though, and representatives from multiple other cities made proposals for a potential site for a museum. The decision was made, and in May 1986, Cleveland was chosen as the final location. A worldwide search for an architect took place throughout the next year, and I.M. Pei was chosen in 1987 despite his confession of not knowing anything about Rock and Roll music. Board members took Pei on trips to places such as Memphis and New Orleans and to various concerts to help him learn about the music that the museum he was designing would be dedicated to. 

On June 7, 1993, ground was broken and construction of the museum began. Members of the board as well as other musicians were in attendance for the groundbreaking, and musician Pete Townsend made one of the first donations to the museum, which was a Gibson J-200 guitar he used in the composition of "Tommy." One year later, the last beam for the museum was placed to finish the building. Another ceremony took place in celebration of the finished museum, and multiple musicians including some of the first inductees performed. In September 1995, the museum finally was fully opened to the public with a full schedule of events.

Since the museum’s opening, it has worked to expand, improve, and keep itself in the public eye. One example is the MTV series Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which premiered in 2001. The show featured contemporary bands performing in the museum and talking about the musicians who inspired them. In 2005, the satellite radio network Sirius began broadcasting some programs from the museum. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebrated its 25th anniversary four years later in 2009. Concerts in New York City and the unveiling of the Foster Theater at the Cleveland museum marked the occasion, as did the release of the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live" DVD set and the coffee-table book "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years."

January 2013 saw the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives, a project that had been in the works since the 1980s. The four-story institute contains over 5,500 items, including books, audio recordings, and DVDs, with thousands of more items in storage. It is located in the Center For Creative Arts building on Cuyahoga Community College's Metropolitan Campus. The first floor is open to the public while the other collections are limited to use for academic research. The Library also holds conferences and other events relating to rock and roll history.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Nominations for inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are chosen by a committee of rock historians each year. To be eligible, the band or musician must have released their first record twenty-five or more years ago. The nominees are then voted upon by an international body of around 500 rock experts. Other nominees can be early influencers of rock and roll, supporting musicians, or nonperformers (such as journalists or producers).

The first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland took place on May 6, 1997 in the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. The inductees were the Bee Gees, the (Young) Rascals, Mitchell, Parliament-Funkadelic, Buffalo Springfield, the Jackson 5 and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. After that ceremony, all others were held in New York City until it was announced in 2007 that the ceremony would rotate every three years between New York, Los Angeles, and Cleveland. The success of the ceremony in Cleveland, as well as the city’s growth and the need for funds for museum renovations, led to the decision that the ceremony will be held in Cleveland every other year beginning in 2018.


"About the Rock Hall." Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Accessed September 7, 2018.  https://www.rockhall.com/visit/about-rock-hall. Information and photo source.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum timeline: 1995-2010. Cleveland. August 29, 2010. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.cleveland.com/popmusic/index.ssf/2010/08/rock_and_roll_hall_of_fame_and_3.html.

Graff, Gary. Rock Hall Opening Library and Archives Collection This Week. Billboard. January 17, 2012. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/511232/rock-hall-opening-library-and-archives-collection-thi....

Grzegorek, Vince. Rock Hall President: Induction to Take Place in Cleveland Every Other Year Beginning in 2018. Cleveland Scene. April 08, 2016. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2016/04/08/rock-hall-president-induction-to-take....

Wallenfeldt, Jeff. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Encyclopedia Britannica. August 15, 2018. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame-and-Museum.

Jones, Adam. Interior of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum - Cleveland - Ohio - USA - 02. Flickr. October 09, 2014. Accessed September 07, 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones/15304010910/in/photostream/. Photo source.