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Old Van a Storied Centrepiece of New CMHR Exhibit

December 6, 2023 7:03 AM | News


Rage Against the Machine Van

The former van used by Rage Against the Machine to tour is on display at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. (CMHR / HANDOUT)

WINNIPEG — You wouldn’t think a 1985 Chevy Astro van could turn many heads these days. But this particular van is a piece of music history.

The former vehicle Rage Against the Machine used to tour is part of a new exhibition at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

“Beyond the Beat: Rage Against the Machine” is an ode to the rockers, who formed the band in Los Angeles in 1991. The van belonged to guitarist Tom Morello and was used for touring with Public Enemy, Pearl Jam, and Ice-T, as well as playing one-off shows from 1991 to 1993.

The Astro is on loan from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. It was carefully brought into the Winnipeg museum via a freight elevator to Level 6 for the exhibition, and then wheeled across a narrow, elevated walkway into the gallery.

Rage Against the Machine Van

“Beyond the Beat: Rage Against the Machine” opens Friday, December 8 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. (CMHR / HANDOUT)

“We were told it would work,” said CMHR curator Travis Tomchuk. “Frankly, some of us are surprised it worked — but we’re glad it did. This is a great opportunity to build an exhibit around the band and dive deeper into their politics and activism.”

The exhibition also features images of RATM, a projected video of their song “Bulls on Parade,” two interview clips with RATM vocalist Zack de la Rocha, and a 3D tactile photo of band members.

The exhibit will open to the public on Friday, December 8. It is a forerunner to the larger exhibition Beyond the Beat: Music of Resistance and Change, opening in February 2024, which delves into how music has spurred social movements across decades.

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