An exhibit dedicated to Justin Bieber opens this weekend at the Stratford Perth Museum in the Canadian pop star’s hometown of Stratford, Ontario.
The exhibit, titled Justin Bieber Exhibit — Steps to Stardom, opened Sunday (Feb. 18) features an assortment of memorabilia from running shoes and stage outfits, to a personal letter from former First Lady Michelle Obama, and the jacket he wore when he played junior hockey for the Stratford Warriors.
The 23-year-old pop star, who was discovered after posting videos on YouTube of him busking on the steps of the local Avon Theatre a decade ago, won’t be in attendance for the opening. He was in Los Angeles Friday night (Feb. 16), playing in the Celebrity NBA All-Star game.
John Kastner, general manager of the Stratford Perth Museum, tells Billboard that he has received emails and calls about the exhibit from Spain, Japan, Italy, all over Canada and the United States, as well as from a tour company in South Korea.
“When it was first announced, I went down and saw our manager of exhibits and said, ‘Okay, I know you’re really working hard at this and I see the design is going to be fantastic. What I don’t want to happen is somebody flies in here from Japan and goes ‘I’m really disappointed.’ She goes, ‘Japan?’ I just got an email from somebody in Japan!’”
Steps to Stardom — designed and curated by Micaela Fitzsimmons, the manager of collection and exhibits, and intern Sara Zilke — contains 60 items provided by Bieber and his relatives, as well as other Stratford residents and fans, but will be constantly refreshed from the museum’s access to 125 Bieber pieces.
“Every few days someone calls us with new items that get inserted into the exhibit,” Kastner says. ”That happened as recently as [Friday] — a fan with a pair of running shoes that Justin had worn and signed. He just walked in the door with them in a grocery bag.
“The quirkiest item we have is a pair of Ellen underwear, a take home gift after appearing on the show,” he continues. “We also have a set of drums that were given to him after a fundraiser. He was nine and a few local guys organized a fundraiser to buy him his own set of drums. We tracked them down and they are part of the exhibit.”
All items will be returned to the owners at the close of the exhibit, which, as of now runs until Dec. 31 — but there could be an extension. “We’ve agreed in November to revisit it with family and Justin and the people in Atlanta [manager Scooter Braun] to see what do we want to do here,” Kastner says.
The exhibit is made possible thanks to a sponsorship by Hyde Construction, whose owners sold their house to Bieber’s grandparents.
“We’re very excited about this exhibit and helping to share a fascinating story about a hometown hero who’s gone on to remarkable achievements,” Kastner said in the original press statement. “We’re grateful to Justin and his family for supporting what we wanted to do and allowing us to share a piece of their lives with the world.”
The museum typically receives about 7,000 visits per year, but is expecting that number to escalate due to the Bieber exhibit. There are six other concurrent exhibits, and in May, one will be dedicated to Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, which is playing at the famed Stratford Festival beginning in May.
Those making the trip to Stratford can also visit Bieber’s former high school Northwestern, his favorite ice cream (Scooper’s) candy shops (Rhéo Thompson Candies), sit at “his table” at Madelyn’s Diner, and, of course, the steps of the Avon Theatre.