From a poodle purse and shoes that his mother, Gladys Presley, wore to Elvis’ 1957 Harley Davidson motorcycle, there’s something for everybody in this new exhibit on the life and career of The King of Rock and Roll.
Elvis is back in the building in Las Vegas with a new history-making exhibit at the former Las Vegas Hilton, now called the Westgate. “Elvis The Exhibition” is the first permanent Graceland exhibition outside of Memphis.
Angie Marchese, Director of Archives at Graceland, promises that this exhibit, which covers 28,000 square feet, will stay fresh. This permanent display will be “a growing, living and breathing exhibition,” Marchese explains, where her staff will be constantly rotating key pieces to offer Elvis fans something new and different to see each time they visit.
This exhibit features personal items of Elvis that have never been seen before including original artifacts from Presley’s shows in Las Vegas like the original billboards and signs that Colonel Parker used to advertise Elvis’ shows at the hotel. Also never-before-seen is the navy blue suit that Elvis wore when he first visited the construction sight of the International hotel on February 26, 1969 and famously signed his show contract.
“The best part of my job,” Marchese said, “is being able to make these pieces tell stories and either take people back to a moment in time they might remember or to take people to a moment in time that they might have always heard about but never experienced.”
Here are some key pieces on display from each section in the exhibit:
TUPELO AND MEMPHIS: The Presley family bible, Elvis’ 1950 and 1952 high school yearbooks, and paystubs from Elvis’ first job as a delivery truck driver for Crown Electric.
ELVIS MANIA: Elvis’ personal copies of his first singles on the Sun record label, his 1955 RCA contract, his custom leather guitar case, and wardrobe pieces from the movie Jailhouse Rock.
ELVIS IN THE ARMY: Elvis’ army fatigues, fan letters, and a check written to Moulin Rouge in Paris from his time on leave.
GRACELAND: Baby Lisa Marie’s footprints and baby shoes, a silver tray etched with Elvis and Priscilla’s photo on their wedding day and their wedding china.
ELVIS IN HOLLYWOOD: Scripts, movie posters, a pair of coveralls worn in “Viva Las Vegas,” and Presley’s bomber jacket from It Happened at the World’s Fair.
1968 COMEBACK SPECIAL: Elvis’ iconic “If I Can Dream” white suit, and the blue chair used in the sit-down jam sessions in the special.
ELVIS IN LAS VEGAS: Several stage costumes from Elvis’ live performances, Priscilla’s dress from Elvis’ opening night at the International Hotel, the gold-plated belt encrusted with diamonds, rubies and sapphires that Elvis received in 1969 for breaking Las Vegas breaking box office records; a letter to Elvis from Johnny Cash; and a Yahtzee game from Elvis’ tour bus that contained dice with labeling from Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas.
ELVIS ON THE ROAD: Presley’s 1957 Harley Davidson motorcycle, 1962 Lincoln Continental and the 1971 prototype Stutz Blackhawk delivered to Elvis at the International Hotel.
At the grand opening in April, Priscilla Presley summed up the goal of the exhibit: “To bring him back in this way, and to be able to take the journey of him from his humble beginnings… to see more of the inner Elvis… We know him as a musician as an artist, but here you get to take a journey of how it all began.”
The exhibit ends with a 26-minute video compilation of some of Elvis’ most exciting performances. From Presley’s first television appearances on The Dorsey Brothers show all the way to his Aloha from Hawaii concert, the video montage leaves you with a brilliant reminder why Elvis was “The King.”
The exhibition is open daily from 10 am to 10 pm. Tickets are priced at $22 plus taxes and fees, and are available for purchase at Graceland.com/Vegas.