Few figures in the history of American popular music have reached the status of Bob Dylan. As the man who showed the world that popular music could be classified as art, Dylan has created a distinctly American body of work to match the legacies of Walt Whitman, Louis Armstrong, and his early musical hero, Woody Guthrie.
Dylan’s lyrics and songs unearth and revitalize the American folk and blues tradition, serving as a key link in the chain that extends from Southern work songs, blues and Anglo American ballads to the many contemporary singer-songwriters for whom Dylan is a main influence. But Dylan’s story is not simply that of a musical evolution. As a public figure and artistic innovator, he has taken and chronicled a journey emblematic of modern America’s own development.
The exhibit explored Dylan’s impact with personal artifacts, listening stations and films. The exhibit featured more than 150 artifacts, including Dylan’s 1949 Martin 00-19 guitar, typed and handwritten lyrics, rare concert posters and handbills, signed albums and dozens of photographs. At the center of the exhibit were four films exploring different facets of Dylan’s career, with rare performance footage and interviews with Dylan and other artists. In addition, three viewing stations allowed visitors to watch excerpts from the Dylan films Don’t Look Back and Eat the Document, as well as an interview with Dylan himself. Throughout the exhibit space were seven listening stations that enabled visitors to hear Dylan’s musical evolution and innovations during this 10-year period.
The exhibit was curated by Experience Music Project.