German plans "world's first Rolling Stones museum"
Devoted Rolling Stones fan sets up museum in hometown
Berlin -- Ulrich Schroeder, 58, isn't likely to be missed, even in a crowd, wearing his top hat and black "shine the light" tunic emblazoned with Rolling Stones badges and myriad emblems.
A former bank clerk, Schroeder has been a fan and high-volume collector of Rolling Stones memorabilia for over 40 years, attending 160 of the British group's concerts around the world.
Now he is to open what he says is "the world's first museum devoted exclusively to the Rolling Stones" in his hometown of Luechow, south-east of the German city of Hamburg.
He has acquired a former supermarket and converted the space to house more than 4,000 Rolling Stones items he has amassed over the years.
Schroeder, who expects to invest 500,000 euros in the Stones museum, says the Luechow town council is also backing the project with a 100,000 euro subsidy
Luechow is just a small town with a population of barely 10,000, but Schroeder told DPA he is not worried on that score.
"The museum is likely to attract fans not only from neighbouring cities like Hamburg, Bremen and Wolfsburg, but also from the whole of Europe," he said.
The museum, due to open in 2010, will have a 600-square-metre exhibition area to display hundreds of the group's T-Shirts, posters, hand-signed instruments, photos, books, DVDs, super-8 and 35-millimetre films, rare Stones single and LP records, concert tickets and press cuttings related to the evergreen pop group.
In addition, Schroeder says he will be exhibiting his own extensive collection of paintings and other art work by Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Woods.
"Ron Woods is a talented artist who has produced a lot of paintings, etchings, wood cuts and mono prints down the years," says the German. In London, Woods has a company producing copies of his art.
Schroeder agreed in London in the early 1990s to become Woods' personal art vendor, and went on to exhibit and sell Woods' art outside Britain, notably in the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
Invited to attend Woods' 50th birthday party in Ireland in the mid-1990s, Schroeder recalls him jokingly saying: "Do you want to continue earning your living in a savings bank, or with sex, rock 'n' roll?"
Schroeder says he retorted he would like to be the guitarist's art guru. Recently one of Woods' paintings sold for 1 million dollars.
In a DPA phone interview, Schroeder said that when he first contemplated creating a Stones museum, several people in the entertainment business signalled interest, with one collector even offering him a seven-figure sum for his Stones possessions.
"But I'd set my heart on creating the museum in Luechow, out of loyalty to my hometown," he says.
Asked about his long-standing friendship with Woods and his family, Schroeder said at first the link had more to do with art than music. "I found his paintings exciting and provocative," he says.
Recently, Woods made unwelcome headlines in tabloid newspapers, with reports of his having alchohol problems and a reported fling with a 19-year-old Kazakstan waitress. Schroeder would not discuss the reports.
Wrapped up in his museum plans, he says all other rock museums have a wider focus and he believes his will be the first "devoted exclusively to the Rolling Stones."
"I know the museum won't make me rich. But then but that's not the point of the exercise," says the devoted Stones fan.
He is to register the name "Rock & Art Museum Luechow" as an exclusive trademark shortly, said Schroeder. Films and concerts would also be staged in the museum and a "Rock Cafe" will serve food and drinks to visitors.