Bringing the National Museum of African American Music to Life

Bringing the National Museum of African American Music to Life

Museum chairman H. Beecher Hicks on the Tennessee institution, set to open in 2015

Chris Williams

by Chris Williams, July 22, 2013

Bringing the National Museum of African American Music to Life

The National Museum of African American Music

in the early stages of developing a curriculum that will go along with those two pieces. We want to make sure we’re educating the masses. Music is more than something that’s just fun. Music is a tool that can teach people about the history of our country. We’re in the process of working with educators, in particular, Tennessee, but around the country to develop a curriculum that will be complementary to the Common Core standards that have been adopted in most school districts nationwide. We’ll be able to assist teachers in delivering music education, history, science, technology, and math related coursework through their interaction with the museum. Whether they bring children into the museum or we export that content by sharing the curriculum to schools across the country through broadband technology.

EBONY: What is the projected date for the opening of the museum and what are some of the exhibits and memorabilia that people will be able to see?

HBH: We’re projecting an opening date for the museum to be in early 2015. Construction is scheduled to start in early next year. The museum will be very technology driven instead of being artifacts heavy. Although there will be some artifacts. There will be a fair amount of holographic technology, touch screen imagery, and it will be a very visual and multi-sensory experience. We just finished the storyline for the museum. It’s called the Rivers of Rhythm concept. We want to tell the story of African-American music through different veins or rivers if you will. We’ve developed an interpretive strategy for the museum. There will be themes based off religious music, blues, jazz, pop, hip-hop, and global music. The global music piece is going to be really interesting. We’re going to tell that story from the perspective of what has been the African-American influence on the world and its music. Our exhibits are still in the development stages, but they will be based on four themes: One, music is a cultural product. Two, music rooted in cultural legacy. Three, music as a social process and four, music as performance and innovation. This is a story of America and her music. We’re going to tell it in the most innovative and exciting way. We can’t wait.

Chris Williams is an internationally published writer. You can follow him on Twitter @CWmsWrites.

Stay in the Know
Sign up for the Ebony Newsletter