The Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism is currently at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Be sure to catch it while you can.

Navy Pier’s Festival Hall B has been transformed into a nostalgic look into the history of The Rolling Stones. This is not just for avid fans of the band; there’s something here for everyone to enjoy. The impressively immaculate collection includes over 500 items, including guitars, tour paraphernalia, lyric books and personal letters to name just a few. 

Exhibitionism spent time in New York before heading to it’s current home, however, it now has a Chicago twist. There’s an entire section of the exhibit with all things Chicago, including photos by Chicago’s very own rockstar photographer, Paul Natkin.

National Rock Review were honored to have a personal guided tour through the exhibit by Paul as he gave his own insight into the nine years he spent as the tour photographer with his idols. One of his fondest memories of this extraordinary journey was during the ’89 North America tour. Paul was photographing one of the shows, standing in front of Charlie Watts, watching Mick Jagger and Keith Richards do their thing in front of 80,000 screaming fans. He thought in that moment, that his life was complete and that he would never top this assignment. 

Getting to be the tour photographer for The Stones is easily one of the most enviable jobs, albeit an exhausting one. During the Voodoo Lounge tour Natkin recalls no matter how exhausted he was, never being able to show it. Should he yawn in front of the band while shooting, Jagger would later ask him if they had been boring him. 

You can wander around the exhibit at your pleasure, and it is recommendable to obtain the audio guide which is available at the entrance for a small additional fee of $5. The tour takes you through the entire lifespan of the Rolling Stones from inception right to the current day.  One of the highlights of the tour is an accurate recreation of the squalid flat that Mick, Keith and Brian Jones shared in their early days. It is complete with sinks overflowing with dirty dishes, dirty laundry strewn all over the floor and, of course, an impressive collection of classic blues LP’s by the turntable which the boys listened to relentlessly while honing their skills. 

Other highlights include a recreation of a recording studio, a display of guitars (which are probably of a value that would buy a penthouse apartment or two on Michigan Avenue) and some original artwork by the legendary Andy Warhol.  There are also conceptual drawings and models of the stages for some of The Stones’ biggest tours, showing how innovative they were in their live productions.

The collection of stage wear on display is also amazing, and it is a strange feeling getting to stand so close to some of the most iconic stage outfits dating all the way from the 1960s to present. One such outfit was Mick Jagger’s exquisite ostrich feather cape which was designed by L’ren Scott and worn on their 50th anniversary tour.

There is a great deal of information by each display and various listening stations where you can hear members of the band and their entourage giving additional information in respect of the exhibits.  It is also well worth hanging around for the 3D movie at the close of the tour which is a great immersive experience.

Exhibitionism is at Navy Pier until July 30 so be sure to get down to witness the history of one of the greatest Rock and Roll bands the planet has ever seen. 

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About The Author

Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!