Facebook Twitter



They promise it'll be ready.

This city's massive, $92 million shrine to rock 'n' roll is set to open this week. Workers have been scurrying to ready the building and finish assembling hundreds of exhibits to chronicle the history of rock music.Throngs of fans are expected to saunter through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum this holiday weekend. The party starts Friday morning with a parade in downtown Cleveland, followed by a lunchtime ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially christen the building. The public viewing starts Saturday.

Saturday night, in the historic football stadium next door to the museum, more than two dozen music all-stars are set for a six-hour concert. The announced lineup includes the likes of Bruce Spring-steen, Melissa Etheridge, Aretha Franklin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash.

When the hall's doors finally do open, the entire city of Cleveland may breathe a collective sigh of relief.

For the better part of a decade, the hall of fame and museum has been an iffy proposition at best.

From the day the Hall of Fame Foundation announced Cleveland as the site, critics questioned the choice and scoffed at the hall's new hometown - a place once dubbed "the mistake by the lake."

But to others, the choice made sense. After all, it was in Cleveland that radio disc jockey Alan Freed coined the term "rock and roll." And the city's willingness to front public money to help complete project didn't hurt either.

Just a quick look at the building should help silence critics.

The eye-catching structure was designed by I.M. Pei, a world-renowned architect whose other projects include the east wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the recent renovation of the Louvre Museum in Paris.

A pyramid-shaped tent of glass rises from the front entrance exposing glimpses of balconies and exhibit areas. One wing of the hall juts out into Cleveland's North Coast Harbor.

"Usually, when you enter a space I design, you see it and you understand," Pei recently told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "Here, you see movement of people and escalators, but you don't know yet how to see the museum and the exhibits. That was intentional. People will discover for themselves."

And what people will find are more than 3,500 artifacts from a slew of rock icons. They will include one of Jimi Hendrix's Fender Stratocasters, Elvis Presley's personal scrapbook, Bo Diddley's first box-shaped guitar and early band T-shirts from U2.

"It's a broad history," chief curator James Henke said in interviews published earlier this month. "There's no question that rock has had this important impact on our culture and the world at large. We want to document that, but at the same time we don't want to be the Smithsonian. We tried to be irreverent without being disrespectful. There has to be serious content, but we don't want it too esoteric."