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Pop culture on parade

Courtesy Rock and Roll Hall Fame of Museum

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Music plays a major role in popular culture, often providing a background to our experiences. Beginning in the 1950s, rock ’n’ roll had a revolutionary impact on the music world, which is documented in the modernistic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. The museum has more than 50 exhibits and film presentations and the largest collection of rock ’n’ roll artifacts in the world.

In conjunction with last month’s annual induction ceremony for the latest members of the hall of fame, the museum is marking the grand opening of its new four-story, $12 million library and archives building. Among the more than 200 archival collections are the personal papers of rock icons, such as personal letters by Madonna and handwritten working lyrics by Jimi Hendrix.

The museum recently completed the first renovation in its 15-year history, creating more exhibit space and introducing new interactive technology and additional artifacts.

One of the new exhibits focuses on the Beatles and the musical revolution they triggered in the 1960s. The exhibit comprises nearly 70 artifacts, some of which are on public display for the first time.

Among the items on display are George Harrison’s striped suit from the Beatles’ 1966 U.S. tour, Ringo Starr’s red military-style jacket from the “Strawberry Fields Forever” promo film, John Lennon’s black wool coat worn in “Help!” and Paul McCartney’s handwritten arrangement for “Birthday.”

Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is an “an educational tour of the history of our country through the eyes of popular culture,” according to Geppi.

The museum fills the second floor of the historic Camden Station at Camden Yards with nearly 6,000 pop culture artifacts, including comics, toys, dolls, games and other memorabilia from the late 1700s to the present.

A tall hallway filled to the ceiling with movie posters, comics and advertisements leads to various rooms that are divided by eras, beginning with a room of early toys.

“Toys were not just for entertaining but to educate about the adult world,” said a guide.

The center of the museum, a “museum within a museum,” is an extensive collection of comic books dating to Colonial times. The collection, which has everything from “Crime Files” and “Crime Detectives” to “Alice in Wonderland,” includes copies of the first Superman comic book — in June 1938 — and the first Disney comic book with Donald Duck.

Interactive computer terminals allow visitors to thumb through computer versions of the historic comics.

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Paley Center for the Media
New York, Los Angeles
Radio and television play key roles in defining popular culture. The Paley Center for the Media, formerly the Museum of Television and Radio, has a collection of more than 140,000 television and radio programs and commercials at its locations in New York and Los Angeles.

Guided group tours provide information about the Paley Center’s history, its collection and its current programs.

However, the real treat is listening to or viewing selections from the collection, among them historic news broadcasts, documentaries, performing arts programs, dramas, comedies, variety shows, sports and commercials, in the center’s theater and special viewing stations.

The many television highlights include “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Simpsons,” “Jim Henson and the Muppets,” “The Jack Benny Program,” rare “I Love Lucy” episodes and the Beatles’ first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

“Television: Out of the Box,” a special exhibit at the Paley Center in Los Angeles until 2015, celebrates 60 years of Warner Bros. Television with props, costumes, set pieces, original animation art and video clips from a wide range of series, among them “Alice,” “The West Wing,” “The Bugs Bunny Show,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Murphy Brown” and “The Mentalist.”

Patrons can view costumes from series like “Babylon 5” and “Smallville,” see classic Hanna-Barbera toys from the 1950s and 1960s, and read suggestions on the “Roots” script from author Alex Haley to producer Stan Margulies.

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