The Rolling Stones is premiering their latest exhibition (UNZIPPED) this year and will arrive at the Waterloo region’s THEMUSEUM a year from now, in November 2021. To support the Rolling Stones’ exhibit, Lisa MacLeod (Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries) recently announced Ontario’s provincial government will be investing $150,000 in THEMUSEUM, through the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund program. 

The highly anticipated exhibition is expected to put Kitchener on tourists’ map in a post-COVID period and “serve to reinvigorate tourism in Southwestern Ontario and Canada”, according to Kitchener’s Mayor Vrbanovic. “World-class experiences such as this, delivered safely, will be an important part of our economic and social recovery, attracting visitors and further showcasing Ontario as the world in one province,” MacLeod said (THEMUSEUM). 

The Rolling Stones | UNZIPPED exhibition will offer an “immersive glimpse” into the life of the almost-60-year-old band which will include more than 300 of the band’s artifacts creating a multimedia display, such as a replica of their recording studio, a reconstruction of their Chelsea flat, personal diaries, iconic costumes and posters.  

THEMUSEUM’s CEO David Markell chatted with us to discuss the investment and the exhibition.

What would you say makes THEMUSEUM special?

THEMUSEUM has a lot to offer in terms of reinvigorating the traditional museum experience. We are a new kind of museum – one of the ideas and experiences, bringing together art, science and technology. We curate our exhibitions creatively, meaning we’re always presenting fresh, relevant cultural content from around the globe to our patrons in unique and interactive ways.

We regularly encourage our community members to get involved by offering a diverse array of exhibitions, programs and events for children, youth, families and adults guaranteed to awe, inspire, and enlighten all audiences.

How will the provincial government’s investment be used to enhance the cultural experience in THEMUSEUM?

We’re so proud that our government is supporting THEMUSEUM with an investment of $150,000 through the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund program.

We know that The Rolling Stones | UNZIPPED exhibition is world-class and will help us revitalize the Region’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, putting Waterloo Region on a much larger cultural map. 

Our community is so deserving of an immersive experience of this calibre and we’re looking forward to partnering and collaborating with local businesses to bring it to life — making our Region a cultural destination for many.

What have your major successes and difficulties been this year, considering the COVID pandemic?  

I would say that being given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host this exhibition is definitely one of our most significant successes of the year. We know that UNZIPPED at THEMUSEUM will play an important part in our Region’s and province’s economic and social recovery, attracting visitors and further showcasing Ontario as the world in one province.

Of course, we’re missing our regular crowd but we’ve been able to find creative ways to connect with them during this time. 

For example, we ran our Dinosaur Drive-Thru in Kitchener at Bingemans last month which allowed families to learn about the Mesozoic Era from the comfort of their own cars. The event was designed with COVID-19 protocols in mind. 

What are you looking forward to from The Rolling Stones’ UNZIPPED exhibition? 

That’s a tough question because I’m excited about all of it! I think it will be seeing their original artwork and album covers all in one place. Just to see how they have marketed themselves and evolved in their branding.

Besides the UNZIPPED exhibition, what plans does the museum have for the following year?

Nothing specific. We’re very unique, we opened in 2003 as a children’s museum before I came. The brand has had to grow, the demographic had to grow. We don’t have a collection, that makes us unique for a number of reasons. The DNA of this community is technology; our model is art and technology at play, so to me, the next big thing is working toward becoming even more experiential. 

It’s about coming to THEMUSEUM and not only having something you can’t see anywhere else but also can’t experience anywhere else. Success in our world is all about being relevant and timely. Of course, traditional art galleries and museums are still extremely important, but I really feel in the future the most important thing will be the ability to share experiences and connect with fellow community members – especially after being isolated from each other for so long. So our next big thing? We are looking into it.  We want to move forward with what we think can bring connection and experience for people.

Finally, how would you encourage the band’s Canadian fans to show up to the exhibition next year?

Show up ready to rock! All the artifacts and memorabilia being put on display in the exhibition are really cool and it’s going to be a fun experience for all those who attend.