The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced a $9 million donation from Christopher Connor, board chair and former Sherwin-Williams chairman, and his wife Sara. According to Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris, it's the largest gift in the museum's history.
"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has always enjoyed wonderful support from the Northeast Ohio community," Harris says. "But it's been taken to a new level today with the gift from Chris and Sara Connor."
Harris says the money will be used to amp-up the building's music displays and improve some guest amenities.
Flat attendance figures several years ago prompted the Rock Hall to seek ways to boost visitor numbers. Harris says that one part of the new strategy is to make the museum more lively and better connect fans to the music's history.
A familiar part of any Rock Hall visit is a multi-media march through the history of rock, highlighting each year's inductees. But after 31 years, that formerly fast-paced production can be a challenge to sit through.
As such, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme - who made documentaries on the Talking Heads, Neil Young, and Justin Timberlake - is crafting a single, 20-minute film to capture the music's history.
"It's in that same space," Harris says, "and it will completely replace everything that's in there."
The Rock Hall is planning a ribbon-cutting for the new Connor Theater this summer.
This is the second major donation the Connors have made to the Cleveland cultural scene in the past few years. In 2014, they donated $9 million to Playhouse Square, which named the Connor Palace Theater in their honor.