CLEVELAND - With the sort of fanfare that accompanies a performance by the artists celebrated inside, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame showed off renovations Thursday.
A guitarist and pyrotechnic show followed the official unveiling of a new, large "Long Live Rock" sign in red, block letters in front of the museum. Among other changes visitors will notice: a revamped atrium, redesigned museum with new products and seasonal outdoor stage.
"We want people, when they approach the museum, to feel like they're entering an exciting rock festival, trigger those memories they have. Then come in and have the greatest possible experience at our museum," Rock Hall President and CEO Greg Harris said.
Further enhancements are still to come. A new cafe on the museum's first floor will feature food from local chefs including Rocco Whalen and Jonathon Sawyer. The museum also plans to add a new ticketing system to make online ticket purchases easier, as well as new outdoor sound and lighting systems.
At 21 years old, the Rock Hall is still a major tourist attraction. In 2015, it attracted 500,000 people, 90 percent of which came from out of town. Visitors have an annual economic impact of more than $100 million, Harris said.
"This is a really important piece for the city, our visitors stay they spend money they stay in hotels, they shop," he said.
A new John Mellencamp exhibit also opened Thursday and will remain open through Labor Day.