The Museum of East Texas in Lufkin has turned into a mini Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the premiere of the Robert Poland Collection. The Lufkin businessman has collected musical memorabilia for nearly 60 years. Poland owns buildings in Lufkin that house thousands of autographed records, guitars and other instruments from legendary musicians who span generations – from Muddy Waters to Bruce Springsteen. Over time, Poland said he’s developed a close network of dealers around the country, never once entertaining eBay to make purchases.
“I’ve always just dealt with people who I know can authenticate stuff, and they’re not selling me something that’s computer generated. It’s the real McCoy," Poland said, from his office at Harmony Products, a family-owned iron and steel supply business.
This exhibition features nearly 100 pieces representing 75 widely-recognized American musicians. Museum director J.P. McDonald says the exhibit comprises about 10 percent of Poland’s entire collection.
“Mr. Poland has a remarkable eye. He is a consummate collector, and he’s collected well," McDonald said.
Music has always been Poland’s first love as a collector. His latest acquisition is a guitar from the 1960s English rock band The Yardbirds that he unearthed in Memphis, Tenn. Sometimes, he buys up smaller collections from friends.
“They’ll call me and say, Bob, I've got to send my kid to college, or I need a house payment. I’ll give them a fair shake on the deal and just buy their collection," Poland said.
McDonald has extended the exhibition to run through May 29. She hopes that it’s the first of more to come from the Poland Collection.