JOLIET - A new museum to honor musicians and bands with ties to Illinois is being planned in Joliet. A nonprofit organization, the “Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66,” was created to preserve the history of musicians who were born or migrated to Illinois and impacted the state’s music scene and to educate visitors about Illinois’ rich music heritage.
To do this, the organization intends to operate a world-class museum that collects, preserves and exhibits artifacts of artists who have reached national and international recognition, while also providing enlightening educational programs.
Ron Romero, who came up with the idea for the museum and serves as chairman on the board of directors, said Illinois has a rich musical heritage that has influenced rock and roll artists across the globe. Although the museum is labeled “rock and roll,” it will also encompass many other genres including the many earlier blues and jazz artists who migrated to Chicago from the south and recorded for labels such as Chess Records. Their talent and creativity had a significant impact on later music including rock and roll.
Romero noted that musicians from all areas of the state have played an integral part of the music scene for decades, creating music that transcends many genres. To pay tribute to their contribution and influence, the museum will tell these musicians’ and bands’ stories through displays of their memorabilia and artifacts, some donated and some on loan. Some of these items are coming from the artists themselves, while many others are keepsakes that have been kept by their fans through the years.
Visitors to the proposed museum will take a musical journey beginning with early jazz and blues influences to the birth and rise of rock and roll, and the emergence of Illinois artists whose influences have had significant impact. Artists including Nat King Cole, who first recorded “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” Sam Cook, Miles Davis, Chicago, Cheap Trick, Styx, The Buckinghams, REO Speedwagon, The Cryan’ Shames, Disturbed, the Plain White T’s are part of a long list that includes many others. This unique one-of-a-kind exhibit will honor and preserve their contributions, while providing visitors with a dynamic and interactive educational experience.
“Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66” has the potential to draw visitors to Joliet, especially the many tourists who travel along the historic Route 66. Since there are no similar museums or exhibits in Illinois, this would be the first of its kind in the state. While the national Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland includes some Illinois musicians, they display only a small sample of artifacts from Illinois artists due to space restrictions. The new museum would provide an opportunity for a much larger Illinois musician’s exhibition.
In addition to the permanent collection, there could also be seasonal special exhibits that highlight specific artists, events or milestones in Illinois music. With the long list of artists and bands, it would be possible to update the museum exhibits from time to time.
The museum is currently engaged in a membership campaign and will use the proceeds to help the museum come to fruition. Funding for the museum is being received from private and corporate donors, various grants and fundraisers. Once the museum is operational, a nominal fee will be charged for admittance. The facility will also include a gift shop.
Charter memberships are now available. Membership benefits include free admission to the museum (effective for one year from the date the museum opens), gift shop discount, quarterly newsletter, members-only events and pre-sale notices for special events. Student and teacher discounts, senior membership (60 and over) and family memberships are also available.
For more information about the museum or to become a Charter Member, please visit www.RoadtoRock.org, call (815) 927-1540 or mail: Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66, P.O. Box 1251, Joliet, IL 60423.