Visiting… Motown Museum
The Motown Museum sits on the very site of the former Motown Records headquarters, still emblazoned with its iconic Hitsville, U.S.A. signage. Songwriter Berry Gordy founded his legendary record label and created the Motown Sound in 1959, using a $800 loan from family members, and, in the early years, lived in the second floor apartment. The museum was founded in 1985 by Gordy’s sister, Esther Gordy Edwards, Motown Records’ senior vice president and corporate secretary, who sought to preserve the legacy of the record company and to protect and present the Motown story.
Inside the building, visitors can stand in the control room and even record a few bars in the carefully preserved Studio A, the original recording studio where Motown superstars including Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye, and the
Jackson 5 recorded their hits. Berry Gordy’s apartment, restored as it appeared in the 1960s, is located on the top floor of the building. In addition to being the monument where so much music history happened, the museum holds a collection of important memorabilia including costumes, photographs, gold records, and the Motown piano—an 1877 Steinway & Sons grand piano that was used by many recording musicians from 1967 to 1972.
The museum recently announced plans for a major expansion from the rather modest 10,000-square-foot space to a much larger 50,000-square-foot exhibit, performance, and retail complex.