Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Reopens in a New Spot

The Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s hundreds of inductee exhibits have been moved to a new and bigger space in Arnolds Park.

They can be found now in the same building that houses the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum. Both museums are part of the entertainment complex in the park.

The Hall of Fame had been in the Roof Garden, an open-air complex next to the amusement park. The Roof Garden was demolished and is being rebuilt as part of the multimillion-dollar Restore the Park campaign.

The new Hall of Fame museum has three times more space than the old version for the photos, videos and memorabilia from bands, musicians and radio personalities.

Highlights include recording equipment from Iowa studios, contracts to perform at the Roof Garden that were signed by the likes of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, and a bright red suit worn on stage by the late Tommy Bolin, a Sioux City native and guitarist for such bands as Deep Purple and the James Gang.

“The interesting thing about the Roof Garden was, it’s kind of in the middle of all these tours that came through, so while they were on their way to Chicago maybe or another bigger part of the Midwest, they stopped at the Roof Garden,” said Maddi Tesch, the Hall of Fame’s administrator.

During the heyday of the old Roof Garden, ballrooms were an amusement fixture throughout the state.

“Pretty much every county had a ballroom, sometimes two,” she said. The Roof Garden attracted major names such as Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, The Yardbirds and The Byrds.

Iowa musicians were involved, too. John Senn, the museum’s founder and CEO, was a member of the group Dee Jay and the Runaways, which had a hit in 1966 with the song “Peter Rabbit.”

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