top of page
  • Sarah E. Mason

It's Alive: Classic Horror & Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection

© 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola

On this year's annual trip to cover Salem's Haunted Happenings for The Harold & Maudecast Halloween series, I visited one of the most thrilling exhibits I've ever experienced, It's Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts.

Kirk Hammett, best know as the lead guitarist for Metallica, has one of the largest and most impressive collections of classic horror and sci-fi movie posters in the world. Hammett acknowledges his poster collection as a source of inspiration for his own musical creativity. "My collection takes me to a place where I'm most comfortable and most creative," stated Hammett. "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."

© 2017 HMC. Photography by Sarah Mason.

Hammett's obsession for collecting horror-movie posters began when he bought an original BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN half-sheet. "When the thing arrived at my house, it was an eye-opening moment because it truly turned my head around because of how cool it was – the graphics, the smell of it, the patina of age," said Hammett. "Not to mention that it was also one of my favorite horror movies of all time. I put the poster up on a huge pedestal and I just started buying all the older stuff. Now I have an amazing collection that I want to share with the world."

The exhibit features 90+ pieces, posters, guitars, collectibles and sculptures from Hammett's collection. It is impeccably curated by the team at the PEM, designed as an experiential event that explores the evolution of horror and sci-fi films providing insight into the complicated relationship they have on contemporary societal fears. The exhibit is sectioned in categories that include, The Undead, Classic Tales, Other Realms, Women and Power, Horror Spoofs, Mad Science, Zombies and The Collector featuring six custom guitars and a short film with Hammett discussing his collection and its influence on his music.

My own fears were tested the moment I entered the exhibit when a silent but eery clip from the classic film NOSFERATU, appeared out of the dark as I walked through. This quietly startling revelation set the tone for the entire experience as I found myself cautiously peering around corners before entering the different rooms where other monsters awaited me.

© 2017 HMC. Photography by Sarah Mason

It's Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection is on view August 12 through November 26, 2017. For more information about this exhibit and The Peabody Essex Museum visit

At a press reception for the opening of the exhibit Hammett surprised the audience with a an original composition made in partnership with his wife Lani, "The Maiden and the Monster", a 7-minute musical odyssey, a sample of which you can hear below courtesy of PEM.

Here are highlights from the exhibit in an excerpt from The Harold & Maudecast

Images from It's Alive! Classic Horror & Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection

Gallery Photos © 2017 HMC. Photography by Sarah Mason

bottom of page