It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) unveils the Canadian-exclusive presentation of It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection, with presenting sponsor Cosmo Music.

This otherworldly and imaginative exhibition features a trove of rare artwork and collectible objects amassed over decades by consummate collector Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist of Metallica. Exploring the interplay of creativity, emotion and popular culture, the exhibition includes more than 100 pieces from 20th-century cinema ranging from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1921) to Alien (1979). It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, and is on view July 13, 2019 through January 5, 2020.

“Horror and sci-fi are among the most versatile, dynamic and enduring genres of cinema,” says Josh Basseches, ROM director & CEO. “Acting as a mirror for societal fears, these films and the accompanying artwork reflect the collective cultural anxieties of the time. This evocative exhibition deepens our understanding of the evolution of cinema art and its relationship to culture.”

It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Art Collection features rare cinema posters from the 1920s to1980—including the only surviving copy of the original 1931 Frankenstein poster—as well as one-of-a-kind electric guitars from Kirk Hammett’s personal collection and authentic movie costumes with life-size mannequins.

The exhibition traces how, decade by decade, horror and sci-fi cinema responded to a number of broad cultural events and developments. Each section of the exhibition uses poster art to convey underlying anxieties of particular eras, including the fear of mortality around the Great Depression of the 1930s; scientific progress in the mid-20th century; the fear of invasion and espionage post-1945; and the rise of feminism in the 1960s.

“Like the films they promote, these pieces are important metaphors for the issues of the times in which they were created,” says Arlene Gehmacher, ROM Curator of Canadian Paintings, Prints & Drawings. “Some of the posters are riveting. They can provoke, excite, and enthrall, reflecting but also shaping the visible and psychological fears of an individual, community, or nation.”

Kirk Hammett has dedicated the last three decades to creating one of the world’s most important cinema-art collections and credits it as a primary source of inspiration for his own musical creativity.

“I got into the business of collecting horror, which is really not a business at all, a long time ago. I think it’s become my midnight calling or maybe my lifetime obsession. I guess some would say obsession, some may say occupation and others would say it’s just plain insanity,” says Kirk Hammett. “It is very exciting for me to have Toronto be the second stop on our quest to bring my collection to everyone who is genuinely interested in these horror movie posters, props, and memorabilia. Canada is a great country, Toronto is an amazing city, and I’m honored to be able to start crossing borders with my collection at the Royal Ontario Museum.”

“We’d be lying if we said that we didn’t scream in excitement when this opportunity was presented to us. Working with the ROM has been nothing short of incredible, and we’re so excited for It’s Alive to open in July. What a perfect exhibition to align with our brand,” says Vanessa Azzoli, Marketing Manager, Cosmo Music.

The ROM will host a special ROM Speaks event on July 23 with Kirk Hammett and Dan Finamore, the Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History at the Peabody Essex Museum.

It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection is a separately ticketed exhibition. ROM Members enjoy free admission and exclusive opportunities to experience ROM exhibitions and programs. For ticket information, visit:

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