Music News

Elvis Is in the Building (The MIM Building, That Is)

See also: Elvis Presley Week Kicks Off at The MIM

Elvis hasn't left the building since last summer, when he took up permanent residency in the renovated Artist Gallery at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. But that doesn't mean the MIM can't shake things up a bit.

To commemorate Arizona's centennial celebration, the MIM is sprucing up the Elvis Presley exhibit with a "remix" of new memorabilia for display.

The new additions, on loan from The King's headquarters in Graceland, feature not only personal artifacts and clothing, but items related specifically to Arizona.

"The unique thing about the stuff that we brought from Graceland is that they're all directly related to Elvis' time spent here in Arizona," Angie Marchese, director of archives at Elvis Presley Enterprises, says.

"When we first opened the exhibit here last year, we were really focusing more on Elvis the entertainer with several cool pieces," Marchese says. "When we talked about what we were going to change the outfits out to this year, it really meant a lot, with Arizona celebrating its hundredth anniversary, that we kind of tied it back to make it very personal and to tie in Elvis' connection to the area."

New items include a 1956 leather guitar case and costumes worn by Elvis in the 1969 film, Charro!. The western movie, starring Presley as Jess Wade, was filmed in Apache Junction. Curious museum-goers will have a chance to see the original script from the film, as well as Elvis' gun holster.

Also on display are two very special outfits known as the "Fringe Jumpsuit" and the 50 pound "Flower Jumpsuit."

"Not only did he film here, but when Elvis first went back to concert touring in 1970, one of the first places he performed at, outside of Las Vegas, was here in Phoenix," Marchese says. "[It was a] kind of test show to see if there was an audience for Elvis to actually go out on tour. So the show here in September of 1970 was very significant and another reason why having that jumpsuit here has a whole other meaning. Not only does it represent Elvis wearing it in Phoenix, but it represents the beginning of what would lead to over 1,100 sold-out shows over the next seven years.

"After we were done dressing the mannequin with the "Fringe" jumpsuit, the thought went through my head that, this is the first time this suit has been back in this area since Elvis actually wore it."

Many of the articles are on display for the first time in Arizona.

The conservation lab at the MIM also handled the entire restoration process of the leather guitar case which had been so badly deteriorated, it had not been displayed for several years. "They used a very special technique using Japanese tissue paper to mend the guitar case cover to where you can't even see where it needed work," Marchese says.

The remixed exhibit officially opens to the public on Friday, July 27, with more events and other activities scheduled during Elvis Week in August.

"To be honest, I think Elvis would be very proud to be represented here," Marchese says.

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Anthony Sandoval
Contact: Anthony Sandoval