When it opens, the new Punk Rock Museum will be the only one of its kind in the country.
Los Angeles once had a museum of its own, but it has since closed. Galleries and museums have also hosted temporary exhibitions in cities like New York and Washington, D.C., but nothing permanent has stuck—until now. A 12,000-square-foot museum dedicated to the angsty, anti-establishment genre is coming to Las Vegas early next year.
Ten musicians and industry professionals are coming together to launch the venue, where they aim to preserve the fashion, instruments and ephemera of the punk rock movement for posterity.
“Punk has influenced popular culture for decades,” museum co-founder Vinnie Fiorello, the former drummer for Less Than Jake, tells Artnet’s Vittoria Benzine. “Seeing the roots of the punk movement and then looking at what it becomes, you realize how much it is woven into design, art, music, fashion.”
More broadly, punk itself is also experiencing a resurgence. The 1990s trio Blink-182 is getting back together to release a new album and embark on a nostalgic world tour. The When We Were Young music festival, which features groups like Simple Plan, Green Day and My Chemical Romance, is about to begin in Las Vegas. And artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish have also recently released songs that dabble in punk or rock, as the Washington Post’s Kelly Kasulis Cho writes.
“Blink-182 influenced a whole generation of music that came after them and set that foundation for punk rock,” Sophie Reeves, an executive producer at the creative studio Production Club, tells the Washington Post. “There’s definitely a hope that this music will make a stronger comeback.”
The idea for a punk rock museum originally came from Mike “Fat Mike” Burkett, the bassist and lead vocalist for the band NOFX. Initially, he wanted to open a punk rock store that could also display historic items and artifacts he’d collected over the years. But that vision quickly expanded to become a full-fledged museum, reports Spin’s Gen Handley,
“This is a love letter to punk rock,” Fiorello tells Spin. “We want to show this common passion amongst so many different people for this form of music.”
So far, the collection includes thousands of pieces, including an acoustic guitar from Rise Against, a green chainsaw used by Sum 41 and red “energy dome” helmets from the band Devo. Photos, handwritten lyrics, set lists, artwork, flyers and other historic items will also help tell the genre’s story.
Organizers are also planning some interactive exhibitions, including one that lets museum-goers mess around with guitars, bass guitars and amps that once belonged to punk rock musicians. Beyond the museum itself, the site will also include a tattoo parlor, a wedding chapel, a punk shop and a bar, called Triple Down, that will serve warm beers.
“It’s going to be a punk bar in its style, but it’s not going to be dirty and gritty,” P Moss, a longtime Las Vegas entrepreneur and author who will run the museum’s bar, tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes. “I would call it a safe punk experience, where you can have a few drinks in a room that makes you feel like you’re a part of the whole thing.”
The Punk Rock Museum will open in Las Vegas on January 13, 2023.