Connected \\ October 11, 2017

Kirk was here

For several weeks, staffers greeted one another with pinky and forefinger raised in devil horns and smiled a knowing little grin. Kirk Hammett was coming to town...

Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist of the world-dominating metal band Metallica and collector of one of the world’s most important collections of vintage horror and sci-fi film posters, is, by all accounts, a perfect gentleman. A rock star. The kind of professional and public figure who can hold a smile for hours, be gracious under pressure and even be nice to little kids.

Recently, Kirk Hammett came to town for an action-packed 48 hour line up of events: a press reception, a patron event, an exhibition catalog signing that sold out in less than one minute and a public lecture that drew over 300 fans on a Saturday night.

During the ensuing events, I got to shake Hammett’s hand and was struck by his graciousness. In front of an assembled crowd of press, Hammett dedicated the exhibition to “all of the unsung, unknown artists who put together all those incredibly beautiful movie posters.”

© 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

Hammett told the Boston Globe that seeing part of his collection, 135 posters that depict the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy, in an art museum for the first time, made him feel like “a proud parent seeing his kid off to college.”


Attributed to Karoly Grosz, The Mummy, 1932, produced by Universal Pictures, printed by Morgan Lithograph Company, lithograph, 81 x 41 in. (205.7 x 101.1 cm). The Kirk Hammett Horror and Sci-Fi Memorabilia Collection. Courtesy of Universal Pictures Licensing, LLC.


© 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Allison White

The press reception also held an unannounced surprise for music fans: an original composition made in partnership with his wife Lani. As a coda to the exhibition experience, visitors are able to listen to a 7-minute musical odyssey, Maiden and the Monster, a sample of which you can hear below:

As Kirk Hammett recently described to Rolling Stone:

It clearly takes you through a journey that's very typical of most monster or horror films, where it involves a creature or some sort of protagonist or antagonist who sees a woman and decides to abduct or possess her and then goes through the motions of either seducing her or outright abducting her,” says Hammett. “It goes through a little bit of an attraction-repulsion sort of thing, a love-hate thing, but then, there's a definite period where the maiden needs help, tries to get away from the monster, and then the hero comes.

© 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

Later that evening Kirk appeared on stage to play Maiden and the Monster live at a special opening event for PEM’s East India Marine Associates (EIMA). The performance was succinctly described by an attendee as “epic.” (To learn more about joining PEM at the EIMA level for these special opportunities, click HERE).

Marking a first in museum history, PEM’s exhibition catalog signing event with Kirk Hammett sold out to a 100 lucky fans in under a minute. We knew Kirk Hammett’s fans were legion...but this was next level!

Throughout his busy round-the-clock appearance at PEM, Kirk even found time to take over our Instagram (@peabodyessex) account for a day. We loved the resulting images, and hope you do too…





As a capstone event, PEM hosted a “Conversation with Kirk,” facilitated by the exhibition's curator Dan Finamore, which focused on illustration art, classic horror and how this collection fuels Kirk Hammett’s own creative energy.  There was guitar playing, there was laughter and there were devil horns raised throughout the audience in celebration of the great collector and artist, Kirk Hammett.


© 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Allison White


Courtesy Andrea Shea/WBUR


© 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

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