Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Monday, 9 March 2009

British music museum opens doors


British music celebrated at O2

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News

A new visitor attraction charting 60 years of British rock and pop music has opened at the O2 in London.

The British Music Experience combines cutting-edge displays with memorabilia loaned by stars like Amy Winehouse, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Oasis.

There is also the chance to learn different dance crazes and try out musical instruments.

Seven musical eras, from 1945 to the present day, are represented with their own exhibition zones.

The 1975-85 zone contains David Bowie's Ashes To Ashes clown suit, Adam Ant's Kings of the Wild Frontier outfit and a blue silk suit worn by Duran Duran's Roger Taylor in their Rio video.

A display in the 1993-2008 area houses Noel Gallagher's Union Jack guitar, a guitar owned by Blur's Graham Coxon and a pair of Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker's glasses.

More than 100 artists have given about 5m worth of memorabilia to the display, according to promoter Harvey Goldsmith, the exhibition's chairman.

Boris Johnson at the British Music Experience
London mayor Boris Johnson tried the drums during a visit to the exhibition

The UK was lacking a venue that "reflects the rich history of fantastic talent that we have spawned continuously that has conquered the world", he said.

The items are accompanied by videos of the exhibits in action, and each zone contains a giant interactive screen charting the era's landmark events.

Other activities include the chance to Dance the Decades, in which visitors are taught routines ranging from the macarena to voguing by a virtual instructor.

Guitars, drums and keyboards are available to play in an interactive studio, alongside tuition videos by acts like KT Tunstall and The Magic Numbers.

The 9.5m attraction covers 22,000 square feet and eventually hopes to pull in 350,000 visitors a year. Tickets cost 15.

The O2, in Greenwich, south east London, is also the home of one of the UK's leading music venues, which has secured high-profile gigs by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson and Prince.

The British Music Experience opens almost exactly a decade after the launch of the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield.

That also promised an interactive journey through UK music history, but shut after 16 months after failing to attract enough visitors.

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