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Chuck Berry Donates One Of His Prized Cadillacs

February 15, 2012

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has acquired a 1973 red convertible Eldorado Cadillac belonging to legendary rock ‘n’ roll musician Chuck Berry. The car is part of Berry’s personal fleet of Cadillacs and was driven during the filming of Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, a 1987 documentary directed by Taylor Hackford that chronicles two 1986 concerts celebrating Berry’s 60th birthday.

In the film, Berry drove this Cadillac onto the stage of the Fox Theater in St. Louis–the same theater that turned him away as a child because of his race.

The acquisition will enter the museum’s musical history collection and help illustrate Berry’s impact on rock ‘n’ roll and popular culture. The car will be on view in the “Musical Crossroads” exhibition when the museum opens. Other items in the collection include Michael Jackson’s fedora, a dress worn by Lena Horne in the film Stormy Weather and Louis Armstrong’s trumpet. The museum is expected to open in Washington, DC in 2015.


The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is expected to open in Washington, DC in 2015 on a prominent space on the National Mall near the Washington Monument. Created by an Act of Congress in 2003, the museum will feature a variety of exhibits and educational programs on topics such as slavery, post-Civil War reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights movement. The building design will take up to three years, with construction to begin in 2012. The museum’s total cost is estimated to be $500 million.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has launched its website, www.nmaahc.si.edu  prior to the construction of its building giving the public the opportunity to help shape the museum’s collections and exhibits. This is the first major museum to use the internet to help create a new museum by gathering input from the public.

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