Metallica Guitarist’s Horror and Sci-Fi Posters on View

Courtesy of the Kirk Hammett Horror and Sci-Fi Memorabilia Collection

Nosferatu, c. 1931, lithograph produced by Prana Film, Germany, printed in Spain.

Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist of the band Metallica, has become well known in collector circles in recent years. In 2017, The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts, put a selection of his classic horror and sci-fi posters on exhibit. Then, last year, a 1933 Swedish King Kong poster from his collection sold at Heritage Auctions for $26,290, and a super rare 1932 lithograph advertising The Mummy with Boris Karloff was offered at Sotheby’s for $1 million but failed to sell.

Now, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto has unveiled the Canadian-exclusive presentation of PEM’s exhibition, It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection.

"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," said Hammett.

Featuring 100+ vintage cinema posters from the 1920s to the 1980s, including the only surviving copy of the original 1931 Frankenstein poster, the exhibition explores how poster art conveys the underlying anxieties of particular eras. “Like the films they promote, these pieces are important metaphors for the issues of the times in which they were created,” said 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.”

The Toronto exhibition is open through January 5, 2020. It will then return to the U.S. for a stop at the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina, where it will be on view from February 13-May 17, 2020.