When you walk into the GRAMMY Museum — the four-story, 32,000-square-foot facility located conveniently within the L.A. Live entertainment complex in the heart of downtown Los Angeles — you enter a musical mecca.
Before reaching the elevator, which leads up to the Museum's fourth floor, you're greeted by an original drum kit played by the Who's Keith Moon. And if you had walked in just a few months prior, the GRAMMY Museum lobby was a showroom for a psychedelic 1965 Porsche 356c Cabriolet custom-painted for Janis Joplin.
And that's just the entrance.
Since its grand opening on Dec. 6, 2008, the GRAMMY Museum has made a name for itself as a must-see musical destination, one that is sure to quench the thirst of serious and casual music fans alike. From the detailed history behind the prestigious GRAMMY Awards and its vast and storied recipients to the mysteries behind the creative process of making music, the Museum is a statement of music's indelible mark on the culture of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
"The GRAMMY Museum was more than 20 years in the making, and definitely worth the wait for the perfect time and opportunity," says Neil Portnow, Recording Academy President/CEO and Chair of the GRAMMY Museum Board of Directors. "With our location in the heart of L.A.'s new and growing entertainment district, the Museum will have a huge impact on the city, local students, worldwide visitors, and the culture of music."
With events taking place year-round, there is one time throughout the year when the GRAMMY Museum really shines — the week leading up to Music's Biggest Night, the annual GRAMMY Awards. In honor of its namesake, the Museum hosts a variety of events during GRAMMY Week to introduce people to the wide array of musical genres represented by the GRAMMY Awards. Among the events scheduled this year is a special performance by GRAMMY winner Jennifer Hudson in celebration of The Recording Academy and Gucci's 2010 launch of a special edition watch and jewelry collection, a partnership that supports the preservation programs of the GRAMMY Museum.
On Feb. 6 the Museum hosted an intimate, sold-out event with 2012 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Glen Campbell. Additional events will include An Evening With GRAMMY-winning folk/rock group America on Feb. 7 and a Mississippi Music Celebration Night on Feb. 9. The GRAMMY Museum will also host five days of educational programs, including its Backstage Pass series, which began Feb. 6 and gives students a behind-the-scenes look at careers in the music industry. Artists set to participate in the series include Goapele, Claude Kelly, BC Jean, Haley Reinhart, and Marty Stuart.
"Through the lens of the GRAMMY Awards show, taking place right across the street from our doors, the GRAMMY Museum tells the story of making music in an exciting way," says Bob Santelli, Executive Director for the GRAMMY Museum. "With the wide array of activity taking place during GRAMMY Week here at the L.A. Live district, GRAMMY Week is the perfect time to visit the Museum and celebrate the interconnected histories of all genres of music."
With four floors of cutting-edge exhibits featuring content-rich interactive displays, a world of musical exploration is at visitors' fingertips, literally. On the fourth floor visitors will find the Crossroads exhibit — an interactive table exploring more than 100 genres of music featuring photos, songs and stories detailing the genre and its impact.
The Museum's third floor showcases the intersection of art and technology with Roland Live, a permanent installation with Roland electronic instruments that offers visitors the chance to participate in the music-making process. The interactivity continues with In The Studio, which features eight self-contained pods guiding visitors through the various unique stages of the recording process.
Visitors to the third floor are also greeted by a giant replica of the iconic GRAMMY Award and invited to sample everything GRAMMY — from the feeling of arriving at Music's Biggest Night to the history, excitement and glamour of the world's premier recognition of recorded music accomplishment.
On the second floor resides the 200-seat Clive Davis Theater, the intimate home to many of the GRAMMY Museum's exclusive programs that have seen artists such as the Airborne Toxic Event, Christopher Cross, Danny Elfman, Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, Robbie Robertson, Todd Rundgren, and Randy Travis, among many others, take the stage for unique one-on-one chats and performances.
In keeping with its mission to serve the community as an educational resource, in April 2011 the Museum launched a new initiative called Jam Sessions. Taking place in the Clive Davis Theater, the program offers Los Angeles-area high school students the opportunity to play music with guest artists prior to their public programs.
Outside the theater, the second floor is home to the Museum's special exhibits gallery, which currently features George Harrison: Living In The Material World — the first major museum exhibit to explore the life and career of the 12-time GRAMMY winner. This month Museum visitors will have the final chance to view Andrea Bocelli: The Story Of A Voice, which features rare artifacts from the personal collection of one of the world's most decorated tenors; and Say It Loud: The Genius Of James Brown, which depicts the GRAMMY-winning artist's role as a trendsetter in both fashion and dance, and illustrates how he used his music and celebrity to positively impact the Civil Rights Movement.
Later this month the Museum will debut Trouble In Paradise: Music And Los Angeles, 1945–1975, an exhibit exploring the culture, politics and popular art of the L.A. pop music scene. On April 11 the Museum will launch Golden Gods: The History Of Heavy Metal, which will celebrate the music, bands and culture of heavy metal music while addressing the history and controversy of the genre, its early influences and the legions of fans who have kept the genre alive. This year the GRAMMY Museum will also celebrate the life of folk music legend Woody Guthrie with The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration.
Past Museum exhibits have been equally wide in scope, including Roy Orbison: The Soul Of Rock & Roll; Bob Marley, Messenger; John Lennon, Songwriter; Hip-Hop: A Cultural Odyssey, and Michael Jackson: HIStyle.
While the GRAMMY Museum has made a sizable impact in more than three years, there is an even brighter future on the horizon.
"The GRAMMY Museum is constantly evolving but our core mission remains the same: to tell the story of making music in a new and exciting way," says Santelli. "We've made great strides in contributing to not only the music community but also to the cultural landscape of Los Angeles. Our public and educational programs are like no other music museum, providing a more connected, intimate experience for visitors."
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