Pop museum too posh for Spice Girls

TWO GIANTS of popular music are to clash this spring in a struggle to secure the affections of British rock fans. But it is not a contest that will take place on stage. Instead, the battle for public approval will be fought out between the brand new National Centre for Popular Music and London's freshly refurbished Rock Circus.

The success of both multi-million-pound ventures over the next 12 months will rest upon their ability to draw in thousands of punters, yet the teams working on the two projects have gambled on entirely different strategies.

In the North, the newcomer, the National Centre, is housed in a building designed by the controversial architect Nigel Coates. Located near Sheffield's railway station, the stainless steel building has been part-financed by pounds 9.5m of lottery cash. The self-consciously modern project, due to open on 1 March, has deliberately set out to blur the distinction between all forms of popular music.

Curators at the centre have turned up their noses at the idea of showing items of rock memorabilia, it has emerged. In place of the glass-case approach of traditional museums, the centre has spent its pounds 15m budget on information technology, video and laser discs and the first three-dimensional surround-sound auditorium. It will focus mainly on music created since 1945.

Tim Strickland, the creative director at the centre, has promised an early exhibition on the changing form of sound systems, with displays of wax cylinders and jukeboxes leading up to the latest digital technology.

Hagiographies of big stars such as the Beatles, or even of native Sheffield performers such as Def Leppard and Joe Cocker, have been eschewed. Mr Strickland says he will consider tackling that kind of subject only if he can find "an alternative angle". He hopes his hi-tech approach will attract 400,000 visitors a year.

Rock Circus, in contrast, has taken an entirely different tack. Owned by Madame Tussauds and already the country's leading pop music-based attraction, its team of revampers has had no hesitation about going straight for nostalgia. Due to reopen in mid-March, the circus is in Piccadilly and was attracting a healthy 700,000 visitors a year when it closed for its pounds 4m makeover. It was originally opened in 1989 by Jason Donovan - a fact which itself speaks volumes about the need to keep renewing pop iconography - and it featured a series of wax models of popular music's celebrities, along with an assortment of memorabilia which included the Beatles' suits from A Hard Day's Night and an Elton John stage outfit from 1973.

According to Rock Circus's PR manager, Diane Moon, the venue's reincarnation will offer some of the experiences associated with rock stardom. There will not be an opportunity to overdose, or to drive a limo into a swimming pool, but there will be a virtual reality simulation of the view from the concert stage at Wembley and a chance to stand around with waxworks of Pulp's frontman Jarvis Cocker and friends at a typical backstage, "access all areas" party. Tickets will cost pounds 8.25 for adults and pounds 6.25 for children.

So while Jarvis Cocker will make an appearance in Piccadilly, he will be notably absent from the National Centre for Popular Music in Pulp's home town of Sheffield. It is the kind of omission that has already alienated some of the centre's near-neighbours.

"The direction they are taking is quite disappointing," said Eliot Kennedy, a record producer who has worked with the Spice Girls. "The centre was such a great idea and I know there was a lot of enthusiasm at first from local bands like the Human League and Babybird.

"The centre was offered lots of memorabilia, but they don't seem to have been that interested. "I myself offered them the original lyrics to the Spice Girls' Say You'll Be There but they never got back to me. I know pop music is not about museums, but I believe fans still like to see these things."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?