Bruce Springsteen is coming to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia for six months.
The legendary rock singer may not be present himself, but more than 150 artifacts chronicling his life and work will be, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit, "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen."
At a news conference here Wednesday, David Eisner, president of the National Constitution Center, said there are three reasons the center is displaying exhibit:
-- In the year that marks the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, Springsteen offers "a unique and exciting perspective that speaks to what we have with our First Amendment freedoms."
-- Springsteen's work is "all about the American dream. It charts the distance between what we are and where we want to be."
-- And, for Springsteen, a southern New Jersey native, "this is home."
It is the first -- and, officials said, the only -- time the exhibit will be displayed outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The show, starting Feb. 17, covers 10 rooms and more than 5,000 feet at the Constitution Center, and was never meant to travel.
It will bring to Philadelphia more than 150 artifacts, including the singer's early scrapbooks, posters and placards of performances with early bands; iconic guitars, including one he took with him to his Grammy Awards performance Sunday; and more than 20 pieces of clothing, including the outfit he wore on his biggest-selling album, "Born in the U.S.A."
Constitution Center officials expect it will bring tens of thousands of new visitors to the center. More than 6,000 advance tickets have been sold, and a preview reception at the center Wednesday was a sellout, with more than 1,100 attending -- "the biggest opening event we've ever had," Eisner said.
And "visitors are truly in for a treat," he said. "It's a masterpiece."
He said he expects the exhibit to be "one of the hallmarks of a very special year" at the center.
The exhibit comes at a fortuitous tune, Eisner noted, with Springsteen's profile again on an upswing.
"There's a lot of buzz about Bruce these days," Eisner said.
He noted Springsteen's Grammy appearance and his upcoming album, "Wrecking Ball," which is his first studio album in more than three years. The first single, "We Take Care of Our Own," was released Jan. 19.
And Springsteen will play two shows at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center on March 28 and 29 -- his first shows in the city since a four-show run before the old Spectrum closed in October 2009.
The exhibit stays true to the way it was at the Hall of Fame, Eisner said, with only small adaptations to highlight the connections between Springsteen and constitutional freedoms and Springsteen's connections to the Philadelphia area,
The biggest reason the exhibit is being shown in Philadelphia, officials said, is that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame agreed, and Springsteen gave his approval.
"It made sense for it to come here," said Jim Henke, the Hall of Fame's vice president of exhibitions and chief curator, a confidant of Springsteen who organized "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land." "I'm really happy with the exhibit and how it looks at the Constitution Center."
Springsteen has deep roots and an avid fan base in the Philadelphia area. He played the Spectrum 42 times and wrote the Academy Award-winning song "Streets of Philadelphia."
The exhibit is "very comprehensive," Henke said. "It's a pretty thorough look at Bruce's career."
He said it has "a broad expanse that appeals to a lot of people" -- both casual and rabid fans.
For example, there are listening stations to hear never-released songs by the early Springsteen band, the Castiles; the 1972 audition with legendary producer John Hammond that won Springsteen a contract with Columbia Records; and the show that prompted reviewer (and later Springsteen manager) John Landau to write he had "seen the future of rock and rock and it's Bruce Springsteen."
Henke worked closely with Springsteen to develop the exhibit. And while it's been at the Hall of Fame since 2009, Springsteen has constantly updated it. For example, he added a jacket he wore to perform for President Barack Obama.
The Boss, as Springsteen is known, sometimes retrieves items from the exhibit. For instance, the Fender guitar Springsteen holds on the cover of "Born to Run" -- a guitar so well known among fans that it gets cheers when Springsteen pulls it out in concert -- is scheduled to be in the Philadelphia show. But Springsteen wanted to play it at the Grammys.
He didn't, but it's not due back at the Constitution Center until after the weekend.
FROM ASBURY PARK TO THE PROMISED LAND: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
--What: Exhibit, on loan from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of more than 150 artifacts chronicling the life of singer Bruce Springsteen.
--When: Feb. 17 to Sept. 3
--Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St., Independence Mall, Philadelphia.
--Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays
--How much: $24.50 for adults, $23 for students with ID and seniors, and $12 for ages 4-12. On sale at http://www.constitutioncenter.org, by calling 215-409-6700 or at the door if available. Admission to the museum is included, and group rates are available.
--Some highlights: Springsteen's early scrapbooks; table at which he did all his early songwriting, with notebooks of handwritten lyrics; iconic guitars; two of his Grammy Awards, Golden Globe Award and his Academy Award for theme from "Dead Man Walking"; recordings of performances with earlier bands; clothes he wore on the cover of "Born in the U.S.A." album; and even the Corvette he bought after the success of that album.
-- Info: http://www.constitutioncenter.org
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