Mission: To preserve, protect, and present the Motown story through authentic, inspirational, and educational experiences.
About the Organization: Founded by Esther Gordy Edwards, the eldest sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and the label's senior vice president and corporate secretary, the Motown Museum was created so that all generations come to know, are inspired by, and celebrate the true Motown story, legacy, and sound. After Motown moved its headquarters to Los Angeles in 1972, Edwards maintained a corporate office at the original Hitsville U.S.A. location in Detroit and found herself giving impromptu tours of the studios to fans from all over the world. Eventually, she decided to establish a museum devoted to preserving the Motown Records legacy and sharing her extensive collection of Motown memorabilia with the public. Opened in 1985, designated a Michigan historic site in 1987, and renovated in 1995, the museum is spread across four of the eight houses Motown Records once occupied In 2017, the organization announced a $50 million expansion plan that includes new recording studios and a performance venue.
Current Programs: The museum's exhibits and tours highlight the story of how, in 1959, Berry Gordy started Motown Records with an $800 loan from his family and leveraged it into an enterprise that revolutionized the entertainment industry. Visitors can see Studio A, where the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Miracles, and the Supremes recorded their hits; browse various collections, including a gallery of memorabilia, costumes, and photographs of artists, musicians, writers, arrangers, and producers; and check out the apartment above Studio A where Berry Gordy and his family lived. The gallery was added and the apartment restored as part of the museum's 1997 renovations; the latest expansion plan envisions a 50,000-square-foot world-class tourist destination featuring interactive exhibits, a state-of-the-art performance theater and recording studios, meeting spaces, and an expanded museum shop.
In addition, Motown EDU runs two summer camps: Motown Museum SPARK, where students in grades six through eight can learn the basics of music and the teamwork skills that go hand-in-hand with the performing arts; and Motown Museum IGNITE, where high school students audition for a chance to study performance, songwriting, musicianship, singing, production/beatmaking, dancing/choreography, branding, and the business of music. Except for a $20 application fee, the summer camps are free for students who are accepted. The organization also hosts Amplify, an annual singing competition, and Motown Mic: The Spoken Word, a competition series that invites local poets age 16 and older to perform original pieces in the Hitsville Gallery to celebrate Motown Records' Black Forum Label — created by Berry Gordy and the Motown Corporation in the seventies as a venue for African-American expression and education — as well as National Poetry Month.
Website: Visitors to the Motown Museum site can learn more about the Motown sound, including its style and many of its featured artists; the history of Motown Records, including a timeline; and/or check out upcoming events. They also can learn support the museum and its expansion or visit the online store.
Funding: The Motown Museum is funded by individuals, foundations, corporations, and govennment agencies.