Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Names Nwaka Onwusa as Director of Curatorial Affairs: Exclusive

Courtesy of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Nwaka Onwusa

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has appointed Nwaka Onwusa as its director of curatorial affairs, Billboard can reveal. Onwusa, who most recently served as curator of the Grammy Museum, will begin her new post on Jan. 14.

“When this new position became open, Nwaka was one of the first people we thought of,” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame president/CEO Greg Harris tells Billboard. “Our team had been aware of her work and admired what she’d done at the Grammy Museum. Between her background and experience, we are excited about what she’ll contribute to our team and our future.”

Karen Herman, vp/chief curator of the Rock Hall, adds that Onwusa’s “knowledge and appreciation of music in all of its forms and strong connections within the music community will play a major role in the many initiatives we have planned for 2019.”

During her 10 years with the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, Onwusa researched, developed and curated more than 20 exhibits. These included Legends of Motown; All Eyez on Me: The Writings of Tupac Shakur; Monterey Pop International Music Festival: Music, Love and Flowers, 1967; Marty Stuart’s Way Out West: A Country Music Odyssey; The Taylor Swift Experience; Jenni Rivera: La Gran SeƱora; Ringo: Peace and Love and Bruce W. Talamon: Soul, R&B, and Funk Photographs 1972-1982: A Love Letter to the Music. In addition to these exhibits, Onwusa also curated satellite and traveling exhibits.

Onwusa earned a Bachelors in Sociology at UC Riverside and a Masters of Leadership at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. In April 2018 she was selected by American Express to participate in its Women in Music initiative identifying the industry’s rising leaders. 

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame family,” says Onwusa. “To be a part of a legacy and a mission to preserve and celebrate the landscape of American music, specifically the impact that rock and roll has had on this country and the world, was a challenge I couldn’t pass up.”

Now in its 24th year, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (rockhall.com) welcomed more than 600,000 visitors last year. Current major exhibits include Stay Tuned: Rock on TV. Coinciding with the 34th annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on March 29 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, the Rock Hall will unveil its 2019 inductee exhibit in its new Hall of Fame Gallery.

The exhibit will feature instruments, outfits and other artifacts from The Cure, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, Roxy Music and The Zombies. This summer, the Rock Hall will open a new interactive space where visitors will be able to actually play instruments. Then in November, the museum will welcome a new exhibit, Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.