National Blues Museum takes shape in St. Louis

National Blues Museum takes shape in St. Louis
February 14, 2012
by Tjames Madison

While other popular forms of music -- rock and roll, country, jazz and even traditional Hawaiian music -- have their own halls of fame, one of America's original art forms, the blues, lacks a single focal point where fans can gather and remember the past.

That could change with plans for the National Blues Museum in St. Louis, which hopes to break ground soon and open within the next year, depending on determination of the facility's final design, according to organizers.

"It's going to be kind of space-agey," Museum chairman Rob Endicott told Reuters. "The idea is to make it a technology-driven, interactive experience. We will have the memorabilia, too, but it won't be a museum of just artifacts."

According to the Reuters article, the museum group has obtained space in an 1892 storefront near the Mississippi River, not far, in fact, from the levee where a then-homeless "Father of the Blues" W.C. Handy wrote "St. Louis Blues" more than a century ago. The museum, funded by private donations, will be part of the emerging Mercantile Exchange District near the famed blues city's riverfront. Groundbreaking is also set later this year for a half-billion-dollar Gateway Arch park rehab that city boosters hope will draw even more people and businesses to the riverfront area.

"Tourists come to the Arch and they park and they look at the Arch and they drive away," Endicott said in the article. "We want to give them something to walk to."

An overview of the museum's plans can be found at the organization's website, including renderings of what the site is expected to look like when completed.

An 11-day Bluesweek celebration to help support the museum was announced last week, with performers including Shemekia Copeland, Bobby Rush, Kelly Hunt and Arthur Williams, among others. The event will center on a three-day Memorial Day weekend concert at downtown St. Louis' Soldiers' Memorial.
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