By BECKY GILLETTE
The GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, which opened in March 2016, has been a game changer not just for Cleveland, but the entire Delta music tourism scene. Asked if this has been as big a deal as anticipated, Cleveland Mayor Billy Novell answers unequivocally, “Absolutely! It has been better than anticipated. The Grammy Museum Mississippi is the most technologically advanced museum in the South.”
Nowell said the museum has provided educational programming and experiences to school children, not only in Cleveland and Bolivar County, but throughout the state. Since opening, more than 15,000 children have visited the museum, which has held more than 50 educational workshops for students.
“Part of the mission of the museum is to use music as gateway to learning and to provide enrichment opportunities for students, which it is doing,” Nowell said. “The museum has also hosted many public events with artists such as Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Peter Frampton, Mac McAnally, Bobby Rush, William Bell, Travis Green, Jimmie Vaughan, Marty Stuart and Connie Smith, Maren Morris, Liz Rose and many others.”
Nowell said there have been six traveling exhibits (The Beatles, The Supremes, Taylor Swift, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Lee Hooker and Michael Jackson) so far that provide a unique and indepth insight into artists.
The museum has firmly placed Cleveland on the music tourism map. There have been 80,000 visitors from every state and 37 foreign countries. And it has spurred more economic development.
“There are two new hotels being built in Cleveland, The Cotton House Hotel downtown and [the Scion West] on Highway 8 West,” Nowell said. “It is my understanding that both are scheduled to open in 2019. There are three new restaurants that I am aware of that are being built/renovated and will be opening soon in Cleveland.”
Visitors are staying in local hotels and eating in local restaurants, said Grammy Museum Executive Director Emily Havens.
“We are very excited for the additional hotels to accommodate even more visitors to our area,” Havens said. “We continue to have many special events at the museum including corporate events, conferences, receptions, birthday parties, retirement parties, class reunions, weddings and many more. We have also had over 60 public programs, and education workshops including songwriting, instrument lessons, music production, drumming, and many others.”
Havens said they are very excited to be a part of the museum tourism map in the state and offer a visitor experience that celebrates Mississippi’s musical heritage and legacy along with offering so many programs to visitors of all ages.
“We have a Blues Trail marker at the museum that certainly attracts visitors that travel along the Blues Trail,” Havens said. “The marker is such a wonderful addition to our museum lawn and definitely a photo opportunity for so many blues fans from around the world.”
Havens said they also love to partner with all of the museums around the state, especially the music museums. “This state has such a deep musical history and it is such an honor to share it with the world at the museum and then pass the visitors along to all of other museums in our region,” she said.
Havens said the museum is fulfilling its mission to provide unique learning opportunities based on the enduring legacies of all forms of music, the entire creative and technological processes of recording and the history of the GRAMMY Awards® with a focus on the continuing achievements of Mississippians. She said the cutting-edge exhibits, interactive experiences and films provide a one-of-a-kind visitor experience—engaging, educational, celebratory and inspirational.
Judson Thigpen, executive director, Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, has been pleased to see the popularity of the museum grow.
“We’re starting to see more tour groups–bus groups–coming through,” Thigpen said. “They have done a great job with the educational component. There have been a large number of kids who have come through their programs and exhibits, and have had the experience of learning about the history of music in the Delta. There are number of museums and music-related places around in the Delta and this is an addition to that. The more places we have like this, the more attractive it is to visit the Delta more than a day. You can stay here and spend the night. As far as that is concerned, I think that is helping the region. The more attractions we have, the more we attract people for more than a day trip who come spend the night and eat at local restaurants.”
Thigpen said the museum has put Cleveland firmly on the music tourism map.
“We are right here in the middle of the history of the music,” he said. “I think it has given us more appeal.”
A hotel study was done about three years ago that showed Cleveland needed more hotel rooms in even before the museum was built. The two new hotels under construction will add 190 to 200 rooms, which will give the museum the opportunity to take on more of the larger tour groups.
The GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is notably the first GRAMMY Museum to be built outside of Los Angeles, Calif. Built and operated by the non-profit Cleveland Music Foundation, the 27,000-square-foot GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is housed on the campus of Delta State University, which is also home of the Delta Music Institute — Mississippi’s sole accredited music industry studies program.
Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for children age 6-18 and free for 5 and under.
Students are $5 and education workshops are $3. Adult groups of 10+ are $10 each.
Seniors and military are $10. Senior groups of 10+ are $8 each
Visit www.grammymuseumms.org for more information.
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