If you are even just a casual Bruce Springsteen fan, surely you recognize the electric guitar to the right. It’s his signature guitar, featured on the Born to Run album cover and played at countless concerts.
This guitar is being displayed, along with many other items, at “Bruce Springsteen Live!,” an exhibition that opens today at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center in Newark and will run through March 20.
Other items include a saxophone played by Clarence and Jake Clemons; the ticket booth from the Tunnel of Love Tour stage set; the calliope used onstage during the Magic Tour; stage clothing and jewelry; concert footage; photographs, both famous and rarely shown in public before; tour itineraries and production notes; posters; concert programs; a scrapbook kept by Springsteen’s mother (!) and more.
The exhibition — the first for Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center since having to remain closed for about a year and a half due to the pandemic — was co-curated by Eileen Chapman of the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, and Bob Santelli, founding executive director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. It will move to the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles in the fall of 2022; Chapman said about twice as many items will be included there, because it is a bigger space.
The exhibition includes a number of interactive displays, some featuring audio and video segments recorded by Springsteen, E Street Band members and other people connected to the group just for the exhibition. Springsteen has recorded segments, for instance, on subjects such as how he prepares for a show, and how he puts setlists together.
In a display on Springsteen’s famous Harvard Square Theater show in 1974, after which then-critic (and, later, Springsteen’s manager) Jon Landau wrote that he had seen “rock and roll future,” you can listen to memories of the show by Landau, E Streeters Gary Tallent and David Sancious, and photographer Barry Schneier.
“The whole concept (of the exhibition) is about the live experience,” said Chapman.
Speaking of the live experience … Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center has hosted many live events since opening in 2017. Nothing is currently planned there in conjunction with “Bruce Springsteen Live!,” but chances are there will be some live programming before the exhibit closes, about six months from now.
“We’re still working on that,” said Chapman. “Because of COVID … just opening after COVID, we didn’t plan a lot in advance, because we weren’t even sure if it was going to be able to open.
“We would usually do a big reception, too. We’re kind of pushing that off till November. And we’re talking about programming in here in November, forward.
“We just wanted to be sure we were going to be able to open, and actually have an audience.”
Most of the items in the exhibition are part of the permanent collection of the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University, said Chapman, except for some guitars loaned by Springsteen and stage clothing loaned by various band members.
The items are arranged by decade and go all the way up to the very recent past, with a program for “Springsteen on Broadway” and one of the guitars used in that show.
The exhibition is open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (as well as from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on days when there is an event at the Prudential Center). And there are more Springsteen memorabilia on display — as well as items pertaining to Whitney Houston, Southside Johnny & the Jukes and other New Jersey music icons — in the main Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center exhibition area.
Tickets and more information are available at GrammyMuseumExp.org.
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