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Designs on a Grammy

Making_a_song_exhibit_rgbThe proposed Grammy Museum Mississippi, the first-ever Grammy museum outside of Los Angeles, has already garnered headlines this year with a ceremonial $1-million check presentation by Gov. Phil Bryant in January and the signing of a 99-year lease for the land on the campus of Delta State University in February.

However, the important work of getting the project out of the ground has quietly gotten underway. The principals charged with designing the new museum that will celebrate the state’s and nation’s musical heritage are already roughing out the proposed 20,000-plus-square-foot facility.

“We are working out some of the early details — things like space requirements, looking at the site and what we need to design around, etc.,” said Doug Dale, AIA, principal in charge at Jackson-based Dale Partners Architects, P.A., a member of the Grammy Museum Mississippi design team.

“There was a really positive buzz coming out of our meetings (earlier this month),” said Ross Barkley of the architecture/engineering firm Eley | Barkley, P.A., of Cleveland. “It’s all preliminary work such as determining square footage, types of space, budget, scheduling. But the excitement has already started building.”

The design team, consisting of Dale Partners, Eley | Barkley, Gallagher & Associates of Silver Springs, Md. (charged with exhibit design), and representatives of the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, recently met in Silver Springs.


A charette is also planned when designers will go through the different concepts from the team members to create a final plan. That work could take approximately a year to complete.

Bids would be let soon after approval of the final design. The goal is for Grammy Museum Mississippi to open by 2015.

“We’ve been working on this for two years or so already, and we’re maybe a couple of years from completion,” said project manager Allan Hammons of Greenwood-based Hammons and Associates. “So, that’s a total of four years, which is about right for a project of this size and type,” added Hammons, who was a principal behind the B.B. King Museum in Indianola and was the one who first proposed Grammy Museum Mississippi to Cleveland leaders.

Dale and Barkley said the other team members have been great. Gallagher & Associates is a key member — it designed Indianola’s B.B. King Museum as well as the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live.

When asked if drawing together all of the team members’ ideas and wants was a major challenge, Dale said, “There is always the challenge of designing a program that flows and fits together — there’s nothing unusual about this project in that aspect.”

What is a major challenge, though, is honoring the Grammy’s international brand while creating a facility that will both reflects Mississippi’s large contribution to American music and fits into the backdrop of the unique Delta region, he said.

“We want to do something special,” said Dale, who emphasized that the client in the project is actually the non-profit Cleveland Music Foundation with the Grammy Foundation serving essentially as advisors. “We already have our staff working on designs. We want a diversity of ideas, a pool to choose from — a multiple ideas process.”

For Barkley, the project is special in several ways. The project represents a shot in the arm to his young firm’s portfolio, and he once interned at Dale Partners. More importantly, he feels it is a coup for his city.

“To be a part of something that will showcase not only the Delta’s but also all of Mississippi’s contribution to the world’s music and draw people from around the world to Cleveland, it’s beyond an honor,” Barkley said.

When complete, the Grammy Museum Mississippi will offer exploration of the music of the past, present and future as well as celebrate the cultures in which that music took root using multimedia tools such as film/video and interactive kiosks. It will house permanent exhibits as well as temporary ones created at Grammy Museum L.A. Live.

It will also be incorporated into the offerings of Delta State University’s Delta Music Institute. The DMI is an independent center under the College of Arts & Sciences at DSU. Its mission is to provide our students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industries.

DMI students will receive credit hours for work performed at the Grammy Museum Mississippi, and will be offered an exchange program with L.A.-area colleges and universities through sponsorship of the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live.

In total, the project is expected to cost $15 million. More than $4.5 million of that has been raised in Cleveland and Bolivar County. The state has appropriated $3 million for the museum, and the Mississippi Legislature has pledged a total of $6 million toward the museum.


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