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Old van rocks new exhibition at the CMHR

A van is the centrepiece of the new exhibition Beyond the Beat: Rage Against the Machine.

Red Chevrolet van in an exhibition space with video by Rage Against the Machine playing in the background. Partially obscured.

News release details

A van has cruised into the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in a display of rage – Rage Against the Machine, that is. The 1985 Chevy Astro van is the centrepiece of the new exhibition Beyond the Beat: Rage Against the Machine.

The band Rage Against the Machine (RATM) formed in 1991 in Los Angeles and soon became known for their uncompromising political views and high‐energy live performances. Their songs have explored themes such as of police brutality, labour rights, corporate greed and Indigenous rights. 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. 

On loan from The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, the van was brought into the Museum and taken via the freight elevator to Level 6 for the exhibition. It then had to be wheeled across a narrow, elevated walkway into the gallery. 

“We were told it would work,” says Travis Tomchuk, the CMHR curator who worked on the exhibition. “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. 

Beyond the Beat: Rage Against the Machine opens 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. 

Media preview launch: 

Media are invited to preview the Rage Against the Machine exhibition on Thursday, December 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Interview and visual opportunities and behind‐the‐scenes details will be available.

Media contacts

Leslie Vryenhoek (she/her)