Art Works Blog

Spice Up Your Summer Playlist with Blue Star Museums

Whether you’re a professional musician or you just love to belt it in the shower, these Blue Star Museums are bound to take your summer jams to the next level. Find one that fits your musical inclinations and hit the road.

For the Blues Lover: B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center (Indianola, Mississippi)

If you can’t get enough of that toe-tapping, hip-shaking rhythm, why not pay your respects to the King of Blues himself at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretative Center? The museum celebrates the life and legacy of its namesake, a 1991 NEA National Heritage Fellow and winner of 15 Grammy Awards not to mention the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Kennedy Center Honoree. Numerous artifacts, videos, art, and music provide an engaging look at both King’s incredible impact as a musician and the broader musical heritage of the Mississippi Delta.

For the Serial Composer: The Museum of Making Music (Carlsbad, California) 

Maybe you’re the kind of person who is always throwing together a new song or dropping an original beat. Music makers and consumers alike will love The Museum of Making Music. Organized into chronological galleries, the museum highlights key milestones, historic figures, and popular instruments to tell the story of music through the years. Twice a year, the museum also presents special exhibitions accompanied by musical presentations. Visitors can also experience the permanent interactive display of instruments and audio clips.

For the T-Swizzle Die Hard or the Secret “Swiftie”: GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live (Los Angeles, California) 

Admit it: “Shake It Off” has been stuck in your head for ages now, and you actually kind of love it. Head over to the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live and check out the Taylor Swift Experience, open now until October 4, 2015, along with dozens of other interactive exhibits. Current highlights include a rare collection featuring the guitars of John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix, among others; the writings of hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur, and a tribute to The Supremes. The museum also chronicles the legacy of various artists and the history of both the GRAMMY Awards and the recording process in its permanent exhibits. And in case you need more convincing, the museum also puts on a number of musical performances and special programs.

For the Musical Instrument Junkie: National Music Museum (Vermillion, South Dakota)

It doesn’t matter if it’s a standup bass or a metal triangle--you love instruments so much your house is beginning to overflow with them. Save some space and venture on over to the impressive collection at the National Music Museum. Among its highlights are two 18th-century grand pianos, one of which is the earliest French grand piano in existence. Altogether, the museum is home to 1,100 representative instruments, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive instrument collections open to the public. Archival resources and related musical objects are also embedded within the displays, creating a truly contextualized experience of the instruments.

For the Banjo Enthusiast: American Banjo Museum (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) 

Ahhh… nothing beats a windows-down, summer drive with some good banjo twang blaring from the radio. While you’re out, make a pit stop at the American Banjo Museum for all things banjo. The museum traces the history of what has come to be known as the instrument of America all the way from its African roots to folk and bluegrass music today. The American Banjo Museum houses the largest collection of banjos on public display in the world. It features two floors of spectacular, immersive exhibits with video and performances—music to your banjo-loving ears.

For the Recording Artist: Johnson Victrola Museum (Dover, Delaware)

So maybe pounding out a song on the piano isn’t exactly your thing, but the other side of the recording studio is where you make the magic happen. If that sounds like you, put the Johnson Victrola Museum on your must-see list. Dedicated to the founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company and Delaware native E. R. Johnson, this museum explores the early history of the sound-recording industry. Exhibits feature dozens of recording devices and other objects and recordings that together tell the story of how Johnson’s business blazed a trail for modern-day recording artists. 

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