Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics

Dec 6, 2017

“I’d say that 100 percent of music is political, that music either supports the status quo or challenges the status quo, so every artist is political … If you’re not questioning authority, you’re tacitly submitting to authority.” —Tom Morello

Catch a glimpse of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, through an exhibit that explores the power of rock music to change attitudes about patriotism, peace, equality and freedom. Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics runs through February 11, 2018.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Newseum in Washington, D.C., partnered on the one-of-kind exhibit, which premiered in May 2016 at the Rock Hall. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum presentation marks the first Louder Than Words traveling stop outside of the originating venues.

Using video, multimedia, photographs, periodicals and artifacts, Louder Than Words directs viewers to the intersection of rock and politics. Among the articles on display: Joe Strummer’s Fender Telecaster. Bono’s 2002 Super Bowl jacket. FBI and Priority Records correspondence regarding N.W.A. Handwritten lyrics from Chuck Berry’s “School Day” and Neil Young’s “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World.” Village People stage costumes. Artifacts related to the Vietnam War, the Kent State shooting, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the #BlackLivesMatter movement …

The exhibit explores how artists exercise their First Amendment rights, challenge assumptions and beliefs, stimulate thought and effect change. It goes beyond music’s influence on the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and gender equality to other significant moments and figures—such as Bob Dylan, who rallied people against social inequality, and the hip-hop music of the ’80s that discussed police brutality in poverty stricken neighborhoods.

Exclusive interviews with Gregg Allman, David Byrne, Jimmy Carter, Gloria Estefan, Tom Morello and others combine with interactives, photography and never-before-exhibited artifacts, examining how music has shaped and reflected culture norms on eight political topics: censorship, civil rights, feminism, international politics, LGBT issues, political campaigns, political causes, and war and peace.


For information on exhibit hours and other details, visit Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum or call 616.254.0400.

Written by Amy L Charles, Editorial Director for Groups Today. Images courtesy of Amy L Charles.

Information courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Museum and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Photo Courtesy of Amy L Charles.