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National Gospel Music Museum planned for Chicago

The national museum of gospel music chicago

Chicago looks set to be the home of The National Gospel Music Museum

The National Museum of Gospel Music has unveiled plans for a $37.2 million museum to be built on the site of the historic Pilgrim Baptist Church in Bronzeville, Chicago, which was damaged by a fire in 2006.  The building is regarded as having played a major role in the birth of gospel music, a fusion of Christian praise, jazz and blues created by Thomas A. Dorsey, who was the musical director at the church in the 1930s.

Architect Dirk Lohan has created the design for the museum, which retains the existing church walls.

Don Jackson announced the plans in a press conference held on December 8th at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  Jackson, who is spearheading the project, is founder of the Stellar Gospel Music Awards and former chairman of the DuSable Museum of African American History.

The museum will include video archives of the Stellar Gospel Music Awards as well as an auditorium, TV production capabilities, a listening and research library, event spaces, cafe and retail facilities.  Between 150,000 to 200,000 people a year are expected to visit the museum once completed in 2020.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, “The museum will pay further tribute to the home-grown genre that’s given life to the legends like Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, Albertina Walker, Jessy Dixon, Shirley Caesar and so many more.”

Reverend Stanley Keeble, Executive Director of the Chicago Gospel Music Heritage Museum Project, said, “This is long overdue, and I am just grateful to see this taking place as many of the people who lived to see this day have passed on. We have a responsibility to preserve the rich legacy of Gospel music and to pass the history on to future generations.”

Fundraising is ongoing, however, the project is potentially competing for backers with the The Chicago Blues Experience which is to open in Spring 2019.

Image: The National Museum of Gospel Music

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