It's now unclear where the rock history exhibit will end up, but history museum officials have promised to open it in another location on San Rafael's Fourth Street next spring.
And, in a major boost for the "Marin Rocks" project, James Hetfield, frontman and co-founder of Metallica, has announced that the superstar band will play a benefit concert for the Marin History Museum in September.
In a video screened at the history museum's $200-a-ticket "Marin Rocks" gala Saturday night at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, Hetfield, currently on an international tour with the band, mentioned "the third week in September" as a possible date for the concert.
It would be the first show in Marin by the heavy metal supergroup. A likely venue is the 2,000-seat Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the county's largest concert hall.
"We want to keep the flame growing and flowing," Hetfield said, appearing in the video with Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction.
Hetfield and Metallica's co-founder, drummer Lars Ulrich, live in Marin and have school-age children.
"Metallica very much supports the 'Marin Rocks' project, and especially the educational programs to be offered for our youth," said Merry Alberigi, the Marin History Museum's executive director. "They have kids in school here in Marin County and they want to give back."
Alberigi hopes to announce the details of the concert, including who will be playing in addition to Metallica, in the next two weeks.
"It's a fabulous gift from them to the community," she said. "They are the biggest band in the world right now."
Alberigi said the history museum is actively seeking a new space on San Rafael's Fourth St. for the "Marin Rocks" exhibit, still scheduled to open next spring.
Where it ultimately will be is very much in the air. In a June 1 e-mail, the history museum informed the Masons through their real estate agent that its board of directors had voted against proceeding with the lease of a 1,900-square-foot storefront the Masons own at 888 Fourth St.
"This has been a painful conclusion for us, especially considering all the time and energy and passion that has gone into this process," Alberigi said in the e-mail, also signed by board president Carleton Prince.
A year ago, the baby boomer members of the Masonic Lodge were so enthusiastic about honoring Marin's rich rock history that they offered to give the history museum the space for two years without charge.
"What happened is that as we began developing the exhibition, many musicians and collectors and fans are coming forward with objects," Alberigi said. "We're looking at expanding beyond initial plans as far as the scope and size of the exhibition. We want to build a showcase for the hundreds of incredible artifacts and photographs that are coming our way. Plus we have a a plan for a classroom within our space for educational programming. So we're exploring several other options."
The decision to reject the Masons' offer was clearly disappointing to Patrick Banta, the Masons' chief financial officer and an energetic backer of the rock exhibit.
"They backed out on the actual day we were supposed to sign the lease," he said. "I can't understand why they walked away from it. We got no information from them except thanks but no thanks."
In the e-mail, however, the history museum also cited "the financial load" of renovating the space, fixing possible environmental hazards and other potentially costly repairs they would have to finance. They said the lease wasn't long enough for them to recoup the capital costs of that kind of investment.
When the history museum staff told city officials they weren't going forward with the Masons lease, they promised that they would keep the rock exhibit in San Rafael.
"They told me they would stay downtown," said Deputy City Manager Nancy Mackle. "They said they are looking at other locations and they're very optimistic."
Alberigi was even more specific, saying "Marin Rocks" will be on San Rafael's Fourth Street. The rock exhibit will be in addition to the museum's longtime exhibit space in the historic Boyd Gate House in San Rafael and to its collection facility in Bel Marin Keys near Novato.
"I don't have a place to announce yet, but I'm hoping to have one very soon," Alberigi said.
Although Banta and other Masons were conspicuously absent from last Saturday's "Marin Rocks" gala, Alberigi characterized her relationship with them as "very positive."
"Their whole goal was to support the museum," she said. "They helped ignite something. I think they will always be part of what we're doing."
Contact Paul Liberatore via e-mail at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LibLarge