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Collecting the counterculture: Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll

October 3rd, 2013

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – one of the crown jewels of downtown Cleveland  – opened a new exhibit on Wednesday, Oct. 2. The private collection of Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr. is on display in the Patty, Jay and Kizzie Baker Gallery through January 2014.

Santo Domingo was a Columbian businessman whose interest in Rock & Roll and the counterculture led him to amass one of world’s largest private collections related to music. The collection was brought to the attention of Rock Hall curators by Santo Domingo’s widow.  It is not unusual for the Rock Hall to receive donations from everyday people in addition to the rock stars who donate.

According to Rock Hall assistant curator Meredith Rutledge-Borger, you get everyday people who are cleaning out their attic and think they have found something special, so they bring it to the museum curator’s attention. What makes this exhibit so different from all of the other donated artifacts is that the whole exhibit is based around one man’s collection. According to Rutledge-Borger, this collection “gives insight into the mind and taste of a collector” rather than just a sum of one music artist or group’s career and life. It’s like stepping into a wealthy collector’s head. Domingo had enough money to buy anything he wanted and what he wanted turned out to be interesting pieces of rock and roll history.

The collection includes various artifacts from numerous bands and artists, but some of the most notable pieces are Syd Barrett’s (Pink Floyd) bicycle, John Lennon’s (The Beatles) Japanese cabinet and a diary belonging to Keith Moon (The Who). While the Rock Hall always authenticates its artifacts, Lennon’s Asian cabinet came with a letter of authenticity written by Cynthia Lennon, John’s first wife. Barrett’s bicycle also happens to be the one he used as his main form of transportation after he retired.

These and many other interesting pieces and their importance can be discovered at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. while on Wednesdays the museum is open until 9 p.m. Admission is $22 for non-Greater Cleveland residents and $18 for Greater Cleveland residents.