One love, one exhibit

(Derek Weidl -- Contributed Photo)
(Derek Weidl — Contributed Photo)

35 years ago, Bob Marley’s message of love and unity radiated through Jamaica during the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston. Mid-performance, he brought the Jamaican Prime Minister and the opposition leader on stage and joined their hands together over his head in a gesture of peace. This week, THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener will be opening an exhibit called One Love: The Bob Marley Exhibition, celebrating his life, music and legacy. The exhibit coincides with this important 35-year anniversary in both Marley and Jamaica’s history, which occurred on April 22, 1978.

“I’m really interested and delighted to have Bob Marley’s message here…in how we can take it to younger children. Love, peace and anti-bullying—we’re working on that very hard through our programming,” said David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM. “It was a turning point in Kingston and in Jamaica’s history, because it was very rough times, and Bob brought the two together on the stage. It’s pretty emotional, you can see that in the exhibit.” However, THEMUSEUM is hoping the exhibit is going to show the community more about Marley.

Aside from being exciting for fans of Marley’s music, this unique experience is also a chance for people to discover new things about him, while still enjoying his music that has transcended generations. “This is more or less a retrospective of Bob’s life, but we really wanted to show other aspects of who Bob Marley was. Not just the musician, but also Bob Marley the man—the family man, the father, the religious person,” said Ali Stuebner, guest curator from the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where the exhibit was created.

One Love features photographs and artifacts that help demonstrate the lesser-known, personal side of the musician, that have come straight from the Marley family, friends and musical collaborators. Artifacts vary from stage outfits Marley wore, to personal photographs provided by his family, to the highlight of the exhibit: his modified Gibson Les Paul guitar. “Very few pieces of his actually remain, or are known, so his family has told us. Apparently he didn’t really have a lot of stuff when he was alive—he gave away almost everything that he had. He just didn’t really hang on to a lot of things,” said Steubner

This is the Canadian debut of the exhibit, which is part of an exclusive three-city world tour. Before coming to THEMUSEUM, it was featured at the Summer Olympics in London, and it will continue on the Miami after its time in Kitchener. Since his death in 1981, Marley’s fan base has grown exponentially because of his music, beliefs and legacy of “one love.” Now, residents of Kitchener-Waterloo have the opportunity to explore his life through artifacts seen by so few, and younger generations have the chance to experience his music and learn from his philosophy.

More than 30 years after his death, Marley’s message of love, peace and unity is still as relevant as when he was alive, and his music is still just as popular. “I think its just going to be flat out fun for people who get into reggae and remember the history and the music itself. Its a neat little treasure we’ve got here, I’m really excited about it,” said Marskell. One Love: The Bob Marley Exhibition will run at THEMUSEUM from March 1 until Sept. 2.

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