by Abby White
After closing over three years ago to make room for the Music City Center, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum reopens today. In a reception last night, founder and CEO Joe Chambers thanked the many supporters in the room, especially for their assistance in restoring many instruments that were damaged in the 2010 flood.
Chambers said that this is the first phase of the museum, and the exhibits aren't quite completed. "It will keep growing every week, every day," Chambers said from a stage filled with Hall of Fame members, several of whom are pictured in the photo above. Representing high points in 20th century pop music from "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay" and "That'll Be the Day" to Blonde on Blonde and Born to Run, they included Duane Eddy, Steve Cropper, Sonny Curtis, J.I. Allison, Garry Tallent, Bobby Wood, Reggie Young, Charlie McCoy, Ray Edenton, Will McFarlane, Gordon Kennedy, Brian Ahern, Bruce Bouton, Pete Finney, Chuck Mead and Jay McDowell.
The original location of the museum, which opened in 2006, was at 301 6th Avenue South, displayed music memorabilia and instruments played by well-known artists and their more under-the-radar session-musician colleagues. Inductees to the Hall of Fame are nominated by industry professionals and members of the American Federation of Musicians.
Many of the museum's instruments — including one of Jimi Hendrix's guitars — were stored in Soundcheck and submerged in floodwater, but nearly all were restored and will be on display at the museum. While much of the area is still being renovated, the museum features the various epicenters of American recorded music — Detroit, Nashville, Muscle Shoals, Los Angeles, Memphis and New York City — with replicas of landmarks like Sun Studios and the Ryman Auditorium.
It will be interesting to watch the museum's evolution as more instruments and artifacts are added, as the organization has the luxury of space compared to its previous home. One glaring absence that Chambers noted was the relative lack of women in the museum, apart from pioneers like the great Wrecking Crew session bassist Carol Kaye; he promised that they'd make sure more female musicians were recognized. Currently, a wall near the entrance showcases photos of recipients of the Source Foundation Award, which is presented to women who have contributed to the music industry. That's a start.
The Museum is located in Municipal Auditorium at 417 4th Ave. N. and will be open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $18.95 for adults, $15.95 for senior citizens/AAA members/military/groups of 10 or more, $10.95 for ages 7-17 and free for ages 5 and under. Below, some highlights from last night's walkthrough.