The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum has launched a $75 million capital campaign that will finance the museum’s 200, 000-square-foot expansion. With the new addition, the museum will double in size, from 140, 000 square feet, to more than 350, 000 square feet, tripling the existing exhibit space and adding additional archival storage, an 800-seat theater and a new educational center. Steve Turner, chairman of the museum’s Board of Officers and Trustees, announced the kickoff of the public phase of the campaign at a ceremony in the museum’s Ford Theater.
"This is an unbelievable moment in the history of this museum and in the history of Nashville, " said Turner. "The campaign will finance a 200, 000-square-foot museum expansion that will connect – structurally and financially – with the Omni Nashville convention hotel. This is [an] unprecedented public-private partnership made possible by the vision and stewardship of Mayor Karl Dean."
"Since the Museum opened in 200l, it has become one of Nashville’s signature cultural assets and a key economic engine, " said Mayor Dean. "Through a previously reported arrangement with the city, the Omni Hotel will construct an exterior shell to house an expanded museum seamlessly connected to the hotel on three levels. This commitment is valued at over $30 million, which the Museum will return to city coffers through a long-term lease agreement. With this integration into the Omni and with close proximity to the Music City Center, now more than ever, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the city of Nashville will prosper."
Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who, along with Country Music Hall of Fame member Kris Kristofferson, serves as honorary co-chair of the campaign, talked about his company’s entwined history with country music. "Many of our customers today, particularly our truck owners, are fans of country music, just like my great-grandfather, " said Ford. "Country music is part of Ford’s heritage, and we are pleased to support the museum’s efforts to promote this uniquely American form of music."
During the silent phase of the capital campaign, which is titled Working on a Building: Country Music Lives Here, $56.8 million in cash and pledges were secured. More than
$48 million of the total comes from donors who have contributed $1 million or more, including a lead gift of $6.5 million from Steve and Judy Turner. Other donors of $1 million or more who were publicly announced at the ceremony included the Frist Foundation, the Ingram Charitable Fund, Inc. and the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation.
The expansion, due to be completed in Spring 2014, will increase the museum’s size from 140, 000 square feet to more than 350, 000 square feet. The new building will feature an educational center that includes a children’s gallery, classroom spaces and a recording studio; additional exhibit gallery and archival storage spaces; an 800-seat theater; an expanded retail site that includes Hatch Show Print; and much more. The expanded museum will be integrated into a downtown campus with the Music City Center and the Omni Hotel; the museum’s six-floor addition will unite the museum and the Omni Hotel on three levels, allowing the two entities to share space and facilitate visitors’ movements throughout the campus.
In addition to Working on a Building honorary co-chairs Ford and Kristofferson, the capital campaign committee includes Earl Bentz, Mark Bloom, Bill Denny, Mike Dungan, Rod Essig, Vince Gill, Randy Goodman, Keel Hunt, Ken Levitan, Brian O’Connell, Ken Roberts, John Seigenthaler, Steve Turner, Ernie Williams and Jody Williams.
The ceremony was aptly kicked off with Ricky Skaggs’ performance of "I’m Working on a Building." Following Ford’s remarks, fiddler Buddy Spicher performed "Soldier’s Joy." The ceremony concluded with a performance from superstar Alan Jackson. Jackson sang "You’ve Been Lonesome, Too, " a song partially written by Hank Williams and completed by Jackson, which is featured on the forthcoming CD The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams (October 4, Egyptian Records/CMF Records/Columbia Records); Jackson also performed "Chattahoochee."
For more information about the campaign, or to make a donation, please visit www.workingonabuilding.org.
About the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®.
More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.
Image: Jim Reeves in the studio, courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Kind courtesy Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.