Cleveland celebrated the grand opening of the state’s official GRAMMY Museum, the second of its kind in the U.S.
Events celebrating the small delta town and the new museum filled the weekend, attracting 1,400 patrons.
“It doesn’t matter who we are, what we are or where we are, we all love music,” said Lucy Janoush, president of the Cleveland Music Foundation, during the event.
A prominently-placed sign in the museum reads, “Mississippi is synonymous with music.”
Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell said the state’s musical heritage made it the obvious choice to house the first official GRAMMY Museum to be built outside of Los Angeles.
“There are many reasons why Smithsonian Magazine named Cleveland, Mississippi No. 2 on the list of ‘The Top 20 Small Towns to Visit in 2013,’” said Nowell in a public letter.
“But chief among them is the fact that for a city our size, Cleveland offers a wide variety of cultural, culinary, recreational and entertainment experiences.”
These experiences exist within Cleveland’s Delta State University, home of the Delta Music Institute’s Entertainment Industry Studies program. The close proximity of DMI’s audio recording space facilitate a special partnership between the GRAMMY Museum and DSU.
“First and foremost, the GRAMMY Museum is meant to be an educational institution,” said Bob Santelli, GRAMMY Museum executive director.
“It’s a place for information and inspiration. In the end, we want to make an impact on young people.”
The museum’s expansive array of features provides plenty of opportunity for educational enrichment. Its 28,000 square-foot space and $20 million estimated cost allow cutting-edge technology that has granted it the right to crown itself as the “most technologically- advanced music-themed museum in the South.”
In addition to its interactive exhibits, the museum also offers a wide variety of permanent and traveling GRAMMY exhibits.
Upon entering, visitors have the opportunity to watch GRAMMY video footage in the Sanders Sound Stage. The 140-seat theater hosts a wide array of public programs that complement the museum’s exhibits and include artist interviews, live performances, film screenings, lectures, featured artist-in-residence, education classes and more.
The museum also features more than 300 artifacts, including everything from Bob Dylan’s guitar to Beyoncé’s 2014 GRAMMY gown. Visitors have the opportunity to listen to a highlights reel of past GRAMMY Awards telecast performances and acceptance speeches as they observe the noticeable differences in the GRAMMY award trophy over the years.
Other features include a large, colorful dance floor where GRAMMY winner Ne-Yo teaches visitors dance moves; songwriter/producer pods where visitors can write and record their own blues song before mixing it and storing it in the Museum’s archives; an expansive array of instruments visitors can play as long as they desire; and a small acoustically enhanced room where visitors can trace the evolution of recorded sound by listening to various artists on wax cylinder, gramophone, vinyl records and stereo vinyl, cassette, 5.1 surround and MP3 headphones.
“[At the GRAMMY international level] you’ll get the blues, you’ll get alternative. You’ll get all of those pieces, those things that a lot of people say even generated from styles from Mississippi,” said GRAMMY external affairs manager Vickie Jackson. “That’s the thread that runs through all American music.”
Despite comprising only 15 percent of the total exhibits, the Mississippi section is immediately distinguishable thanks to the giant interactive table in its center.
This Mississippi Music Table, the most technologically advanced exhibit the museum has to offer, allows visitors to browse through Mississippi artists and view their lineages, photos, songs, awards and more. Across from it rests the Mississippi Music Bar, where users can sit on bar stools, put on headphones and scroll through an endless selection of hit songs performed or written by Mississippians.
Organizers hope that these exhibits will encourage tourists from all over to come to Mississippi.
“We’re really focused on working with Visit Mississippi and bringing people not just from around the United States, but a lot of international travelers as well,” Jackson said. “People typically come from Memphis and go the New Orleans track. We want to make sure that they make the Delta a stop.”
In attempts to appeal to a large variety of patrons, the museum also regularly hosts traveling exhibits curated by the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE. Their first is “Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles!” which will be on display through June 12 and has already drawn large crowds of enthused fans.
From April 1-2, the Museum and Delta State University will present “Beatles Symposium 2016: From The Cavern To Candlestick,” an exciting event featuring discussions with noted Beatles historians, live music, film screenings and more.