"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> The Grammy Museum
The Grammy Museum
By: Timm Carney
The Grammy Museum is not a museum about grandmothers. I had to explain this to my partner; it's a museum about the Grammy Awards. It doesn't have displays of Afghans and false teeth but costumes and instruments. That being said, the Grammy Museum is an interactive and invigorating museum.
The museum is located in the LA Live complex in downtown LA. The complex is very modern and inviting. It houses, along with the Museum, a bowling alley bar, the Nokia Theater, Trader Vic's and a bunch of other bars and restaurants. This isn't an article about LA Live so let it suffice to say the place is worth checking out.
The Entrance to the museum is on Figueroa St. where you are greeted by one of the few docents you encounter throughout the museum. The day we were there the gentleman at the door pointed out Janis Joplin's psychedelic Porsche in the lobby while he called for the elevator. The museum starts on the fourth floor and you work your way downward. We stepped into the black lighted elevator and were off on our Grammy Museum experience.
The elevator opens on the fourth floor to a room of wall sized video screens displaying past Grammy acceptance speeches. A twice than life sized Mary J. Blige was accepting an award for something and thanking God when I arrived. This foyer opens to the first gallery, historic photos and some actual Grammys in cases line the walls but the focus of the room is an interact table in the center of the room. "Crossroads" is the name of this display. By touching a genre of music video information and graphics appear on the table along with audio clips. Each of these genres has stylistic interactive links to another genre. I naturally touched Punk Rock and The Ramones started playing in my earphones. The screen had links to Hard Core, Glam, Garage, New Wave, Rockabilly, Ska, and Rock. These too had links leading to their prospective influences.
The next room has memorabilia from all the different genres of music the Grammy awards cover as well as some surprising information on the history of popular music in America and the world. Ranging from Ragtime to Jazz to Country and Religious music; popular music's genres are all covered. There are pieces of original sheet music and instruments along with costumes from the old masters of American music. The museum then shifts to The Grammy's itself. Photos and video clips along with red carpet outfits line the cases. The museum documents the history of the Grammy and the awards show. It is filled with facts and trivia that are just fascinating. Did you know Bob Newhart won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1961 for a spoken word record "The Button-down Mind of Bob Newhart"?
We travelled down to the third floor where the museum becomes even more interactive. Here displays of musical instruments are set up on a small stage and visitors are encouraged to pick them up and play them. There is a drum kit, bass, guitar, keyboard and microphone set up just waiting for the next Green Day or Sly and the Family Stone to walk up. There are sound proof booths throughout this floor covering every aspect of the recording process and the back wall honors and explains the Producer and it role the producer plays. In one corner by the stairs to the second floor there is a section entirely devoted to the Latin Grammy Awards. This is a small area but I was impressed that it was not ignored. I learned some things I would never have known and saw a dress worn by Celia Cruz.
The second floor of the museum has a room for changing shows. The show on display while I visited was devoted to Janis Joplin (hence the car in the main Lobby), Jimi Hendrix and the Doors. Contemporary photos of the performers and their histories lined the walls and filled the cases. There were some beautiful letters from Janis to her parents on one wall along with outfits she wore that I found particularly interesting. I would like to have seen more about The Doors as the museum was in Los Angeles but that is just me. The remained of the floor is taken up with the obligatory gift shop and to be frank I passed on looking at coffee mugs and mouse pads with the museum logo on them. I am sure there are some very lovely souvenirs available if that is your kind of thing.
We spent just under two hours in the museum and I will return again as I know I did not fully explore the collection as thoroughly as I might. This is a museum that caters to rockers and pop fans as well as it does kids and those adults ADHD. The interactive component of the museum makes it a very worthwhile experience.