Grammy Museum in Mississippi Set to Break Ground Next Month, Open in 2015

The Grammy Museum is heading to the crossroads in 2015.

A second Grammy Museum slated to open in Cleveland, Miss., adjacent to Delta State University, is getting closer to reality. Grammy Museum executive director Bob Santelli, Patrick Gallagher of exhibit design firm Gallagher and Associates; Cleveland Music Foundation president Lucy Janoush and project consultant Allan Hammons will unveil renderings of the new museum project tonight (Feb. 7) at a press conference.

A four-acre plot of land has been secured for the site and a 99-year lease signed. Groundbreaking is expected within a month and opening date has been set for May 2015. Building costs for the 20,000-square-foot museum are budgeted for $12 million-$15 million; more than $4.5 million has been raised by citizens of Cleveland and Bolivar County and the state has appropriated $3 million and pledged another $3 million in support. They intend to raise another $5 million in private sector donations.

The idea for a Mississippi museum cropped up close to two years ago after the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola had been open for nearly three years. The King museum, about 25 miles from Cleveland, surveys the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta with a goal of encouraging and inspiring young artists and musicians.

An artist rendering of the Mississippi Grammy Museum

All parties involved in the new Grammy Museum view it as an opportunity to explore Mississippi music, especially the blues and country music, and to export exhibits and educational programs from the L.A. museum. Cleveland is the home of the Delta Music Institute, an independent center within Delta State’s College of Arts & Sciences that offers music industry studies and a sound recording technology program.

“We wanted to make sure its integrated into the college experience,” Santelli told Billboard, “ that there are connections with the student body and faculty. “Rural Mississippi is not downtown Los Angeles, so it’s not as much a tourist attraction.  We will extend and broaden our reach with an address in the South and I’m certain that gve-and-take will be a two-way street.”

The Grammy Museum will institute an exchange program for students from Delta State and L.A. area colleges and universities.

The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles will control curatorial and public program decisions as well as the hiring. Neither the museum, the Recording Academy or AEG, which owns the Grammy Museum property, will invest in the Mississippi site.

“To have a Grammy Museum in the state is icing on the cake,” Janoush told Billboard, listing other area attractions such as the Highway 61 Blues museum, B.B. King Museum and, 100 miles to the north, Graceland. An active Memphis chapter of the Recording Academy has been credited as being instrumental in making the Grammy Museum Mississippi a reality.

Janoush and Hammons say they will market the museum to visitors in the Arkansas-Mississippi-Memphis area and based on the 30,000-40,000 visitors the King museum attracts, they estimate tourist traffic as possibly being as high as 100,000 in the first year.

“Take Mississippi out of the equation,” Santelli says, explaining the logic of the location, “and it’s hard to answer the question of 'what is American music?'”

Last year, the L.A. museum was presented with a placard to note it was on the Mississippi Blues Trail, one of nine spots outside the state. The trail, which has a country companion, guides visitors to more than 160 sites that recognize blues artists, places where they lived and played, and other relevant sites.

The North Mississippi Allstars and Steve Forbert are scheduled to perform tonight at the Mississippi Music Celebration in the museum’s Clive Davis Theater.