Bruce Springsteen exhibit at Constitution Center opening today

CHUCK DARROW, darrowc@phillynews.com 215-313-3134

Updated: Friday, February 17, 2012, 1:46 AM

THERE'S NO question Bruce Springsteen fans will eat up each and every one of the 150-plus items that comprise "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen," the exhibit that opens today and runs through Sept. 3 at the National Constitution Center.

Leather jacket worn by Springsteen on the cover of the "Born to Run" album released in August 1975. TOM GRALISH / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
1960 Corvette that Springsteen bought in 1975 after "Born to Run."
First communion at age 8, St. Rose of Lima Church, Freehold, N.J.
Springsteen's hotel-key art.
Lyrics to "Born in the U.S.A."
Photo Gallery: Bruce Springsteen exhibit at Constitution Center opening today

Sure, some of the pictures, notebooks, guitars and tour tchotchkes showcased here are somewhat prosaic and not especially interesting. But others are real grabbers. Here are 10 must-sees, and why you must see them:

1960 Corvette

Why it's cool: A 1960 'Vette is cool under any circumstances. That Bruce's butt has indented the driver's seat since he bought it in 1975 (after "Born to Run" took off) sends its cool factor into the stratosphere.

Fender Esquire Guitar

Why it's cool: Except for Paul McCartney's violin-shaped Hofner bass, the ax Bruce brandished on the cover of the "Born to Run" LP is about as iconic as any instrument can be. Note: The guitar will not be added to the collection until sometime next week.

Communion photo

Why it's cool: This is a great reminder that Springsteen wasn't born a global superstar but an everyday, walking-around Catholic kid with a fairly typical working-class upbringing.

'70s Main Point poster

Why it's cool: Of the thousands of gigs Bruce has done, few were more crucial to local Springsteen legend than the handful of early- and mid-'70s dates he did at the beloved Bryn Mawr coffeehouse. Bonus: The same poster also lists shows by Jimmy Buffett and Hall & Oates!

1972 Columbia Records audition tapes

Why it's cool: The tunes on these reel-to-reel tapes (including "Mary Queen of Arkansas," "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," "Growin' Up" and "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?") are where the Springsteen story really begins to take shape. Just imagine how things might have gone if, rather than envisioning the 23-year-old singer-songwriter as the next Bob Dylan, legendary music biz talent scout John Hammond had said something like, "Thanks, Bruce. Don't call us, we'll call you."

Handwritten lyrics for 'Born to Run'

Why it's cool: Most of the exhibition's artifacts of handwritten lyrics are reproductions, but this notebook is the real deal. Which, for Bruce-ophiles, puts it on the same level as Abraham Lincoln's original draft of the Gettysburg Address.

Hotel room keys

Why it's cool: This Bruce-created "sculpture" made from hotel room keys acquired during 1970s tours gives younger visitors a glimpse into life before magnetic-strip technology. And it's cool that Springsteen thought to do such a thing.

Danny Federici's accordion

Why it's cool: Because before the keyboard player introduced the "squeeze box" to the E Street Band, the accordion was easily the squarest instrument known to mankind. He single-handedly made it hip.

1970s video clips

Why it's cool: You can spend days watching vids of Bruce gigs from 1985 and beyond. But these snippets offer rare looks at his "prehistoric" concerts before he became "Bruce."

1994 best song Oscar

Why it's cool: Because "Streets of Philadelphia," from the film "Philadelphia," is the closest most of us will ever get to an actual Oscar. Odd fact: Whitney Houston presented the award to him.

"From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen," through Sept. 3, National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St. Open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission $24.50 adults, $23 seniors and students, $12 ages 4-12, 215-409-6700. constitution center.org.

CHUCK DARROW, darrowc@phillynews.com 215-313-3134

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