Motown Museum expansion plans to create more interactive spaces for fans – Andscape

DETROIT — After years of serving music fans, the Motown Museum will reopen later this summer with a new expansion that will enhance the Motown experience.

The museum was founded in 1985 by Esther Gordy Edwards, Berry Gordy’s sister. Their aim was to preserve the legacy of Motown Records, the famous label founded by Gordy in 1958.

“My grandmother, Esther Gordy Edwards, laid the foundation. She had the foresight to even preserve the birthplace of Motown, so the story begins there with the foundation she laid,” said Robin Terry, Motown Museum CEO since 2014.

Motown was a dominant record label in the 1960s and home to artists such as The Temptations, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross and the Supremes. The studio was in Detroit in Gordy’s two-story house. Gordy is the creator of the word “Motown,” commonly used to refer to the city of Detroit.

“These two words Motown and Detroit are synonymous,” Terry said. “They represent a very rich legacy of music and excellence, Detroit’s finest.”

In 1972, Berry Gordy decided to move Motown Records from Detroit to Los Angeles to take advantage of opportunities in the film industry and shed more light on his artists.

“As a kid growing up on the east side of Detroit, Hollywood was an unattainable, mystical fantasy,” Gordy said during a ceremony unveiling Berry Gordy Square in 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times. “But as Motown grew, our success made me realize there was no limit to how far we could go. I wanted my artists to reach their full potential, so we came here to Hollywood.”

That decision left the famous blue-and-white house idle, but many fans continued to tour the inside. Gordy Edwards noticed what was happening and decided to turn the house into a museum.

Since its opening, fans from all over the world have visited the museum. As the Motown Museum grew, it was able to offer more opportunities to people in the community, including the Hitsville Next program, which provides educational experiences for those interested in creative opportunities like developing their own music.

“It was a wonderful program. I’ve learned a lot of things about the music business: writing, artistry, all these different things,” said Carrington Simone, a former summer camp member.

Motown offers three programs for Hitsville Next: Motown SPARK is a daily summer camp for middle school students, Ignite is a daily summer camp for high school students, and Amplify is a program for adults looking to expand their music careers.

“During my time as a camper, I definitely got a lot of experience working with different professionals, understanding the art of songwriting, understanding the art of business, and then being mentored by Rhonda Ross Kendrick, daughter of Diana Ross and Berry Gordy,” said Simone, a Music student at Oakland University.

“It was amazing to be able to ask her questions about her experiences, things that she knows how to really be a real performer, because she’s a jazz musician and her performances are amazing. So it was really an honor to be a part of this program because it definitely helped me gain as much knowledge about music as I have today and something I’m very passionate about.”

In October 2021, five years after the expansion was announced, the museum closed for construction. It has garnered much support, including a $5 million grant from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott. The entire project cost $50 million, according to the Motown Museum.

The expansion will take place in three phases. The first phase will connect three homes that Gordy bought to make room for where Hitsville Next will operate. The second phase creates a space for people to hang out and mingle with other Motown fans. The final phase will include a new immersive exhibition space, café and performance theatre.

With these changes, it is hoped the Motown Museum will become an interactive community space where people can relax and attend pop-up performances.

“Motown is becoming a place to just hang out and just like the mid ’60s, you never know who you’re going to meet and you never know what’s going on. So we’re excited to bring this Plaza activation to the community,” said Terry.

As Motown prepares for expansion, the plan to increase fan engagement dates back to Gordy Edwards’ original idea of ​​the museum.

“I have the privilege of leading this project,” said Terry. “For me it’s personal and I’m very proud and honored because it spearheads the iteration of my grandmother’s dream for the world to know the story of Motown and continue to engage with the story.”

Monet Heath is a senior journalism major and sports administration minor from Detroit. She is a reporter for Spotlight Network, a training organization at Howard for students majoring in broadcast journalism, television production, audio production, and film. “As a Rhoden Fellow, I look forward to growing as a sportswriter, covering events and topics focused on the history and growth of HBCUs and Black people in sports.”

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