"Sleep with one eye open, gripping your pillow tight". A new art exhibit featuring the private collection of one of the world’s best musicians will keep you awake at night with obsessive thoughts of things that go bump in the night.

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Nosferatu ©Peabody Essex Museum

Over the past three decades Kirk Hammett, best known as lead guitarist for Metallica and also a partner in Blackened American Whiskey, has amassed a collection of horror and sci-fi film art that’s now been organized as a traveling exhibition dubbed It’s Alive! Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts, its final stop is at the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) in Columbia, South Carolina, where it runs from 15 February to 17 May, 2020 and includes an interactive guitar experience and programming schedule with appearances by Hammett himself.

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Hamlet ©Peabody Essex Museum

“My collection takes me to a place where I need to be,” Hammett said in a statement. “Among the monsters, where I’m most comfortable and most creative. That’s where the magic has happened for me all these years and it’s something I’ve come to trust. From the moment I first encountered these characters, I could see that these guys had just as much difficulty in coping as I did. It’s a very, very dark universe when we shut our eyes at night.”

On display are 135 works from twentieth century cinema including posters, rare art by master artists and related memorabilia such as electric guitars, lobby cards, film props and costumes. As described by his biographer Stefan Chirazi, Hammett was a self-described shy kid obsessed with monsters, ghouls, toys, movies and guitars; he first connected with Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein followed by Godzilla, the Mummy and other terrifying creatures that tap into our psychological response to fear. He admits it’s his collection that has primarily sparked his creativity over the years. “The stuff of horror has a mojo that always works on me,” he says. “I start producing ideas...they just flow like liquid.”

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Caligari ©Peabody Essex Museum

Events and activities surrounding It’s Alive! include public tours every Saturday at 1 PM, a panel discussion on 23 April about women in horror, horror and sci-fi writing workshops on 3 May and Arts & Draughts Nights on 13 March and 15 May, during which guests can make their own art, tour the galleries, rock out to tunes from a DJ and enjoy food and brews. And after perusing the collection they can check out The Kirk Hammett Guitar Experience sponsored by Live Nation, where $5 offers the opportunity to play one of two limited edition ESP guitars customized with art selected by Hammett.

"Never mind that noise you heard. It's just the beasts under your bed, in your closet, in your head". 

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