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Thursday, July 9, 1998 Published at 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK


Interactive pop music centre unveiled

Nigel Coates' creation looks more like an oil refinery than a museum

Britain's largest jukebox of musical exhibits has been unveiled in Sheffield, aimed at celebrating and encouraging the culture of pop music.

Two Elvis Presley lookalikes abseiled 50 feet from the roof bringing down a black tarpaulin to reveal the multi-million-pound National Centre for Popular Music.

Designed by internationally renowned architect Nigel Coates, the futuristic building is characterised by four huge drums with a large spout emerging from each roof.

[ image: Elvis: live and kicking on a roof in Sheffield]
Elvis: live and kicking on a roof in Sheffield
It houses a modern musuem - called a Rockopaedia - covering the history of pop as well as interactive video displays and an area for temporary exhibitions.

Visitors will also get a chance to record their own voice with a range of backing instruments, be a radio DJ and design an album cover.

They will also be able to listen to a compilation of popular music from 1900 to the present day in a circular "sensurround" auditorium.

All this hasn't come cheap - the centre cost 15m, most of which came from the National Lottery and at least 1m from private sponsors. The Dutch electronics firm Philips is working with the centre to bring the latest technology to the interactive displays.

The project is creating 70 jobs in a city which is proud of music tradition, producing pop icons like Def Leppard, Joe Cocker and Pulp.

The centre hopes to attract 400,000 visitors a year and will open to the public in July 1999.

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