Music is one of humankind’s greatest creations.
What other invention spans the ages and the continents so beautifully? Ideas born in a 17th-century brain can bring tears to 21st-century eyes. The flying hands and bold improvisations of a troupe of village drummers can electrify people 10,000 miles away. Guided by a musical heart, a few artful scratches of a pen on paper can, in another time and place, whether by solo voice, jazz trio or chamber orchestra, unfold into sounds of enormous power and feeling.
Music always has been woven through all aspects of our lives and cultures – our history, our arts (both folk & fine), our storytelling, our craft, our commerce, our science and technology, our worship. The story of music is the story of humanity and all its activities, not of a specific time and place but of all times and all places.
There are many things that make us different from one another, or accentuate our differences. But music is a force that connects the globe, links the generations, and spans the millennia. All of us – from the life-long student of choral music to the garage band rocker, from the soul crooner to our most tone-deaf uncle – have a special place in our hearts for music. It’s a natural instinct. We all have particular songs or sounds that arouse powerful memories and emotions, or evoke a sense of place far-removed from the present. Music is hard wired, deep inside us all from birth. Music is a defining characteristic of humanity, so music unifies us as people.
A celebration of music is a celebration of this spirit, our common humanity and human experience itself.
Music + Museum = ???
The Museum that MoMI proposes will be an emotional celebration of the pervasive power of music and the human experience. It will combine person-to-person contact with high-technology underpinnings that will enable new types of experiences and provide touches of inspiration and wonder.
This will be a museum unlike any other in the world. It will be a place for exploring other cultures and civilizations through their music. It will be a place for learning about the art and craft of creating music. It will be a place for being inspired by the genius and passion of great musical souls. It will be a place for embracing and honoring all types of music and all its uses and places in our lives.
It will be much more than exhibits of objects and artifacts. Although it will include traditional gallery spaces, it will be alive with music, interactive technologies and people making music. Visitors will be able to create some of that music and shape their own explorations. Everyone will leave with more music in their soul – and even a custom-made recording in their hands to help them re-live their personalized experience.
The Museum will be global, literally linked to the entire world by state-of-the-art communications networks, and host to musical guests representing every continent and culture.
The sparkling, new facility in metro Atlanta will be more than an architecturally stunning landmark. It will be a warm and inviting place, with large halls, quiet corners and surprising bursts of dazzling technological and interpersonal magic.
Indeed, technology will play an essential facilitating role – but the main attraction will be people. A retired Midwestern couple, a touring German family with small children, and a teenager from urban Atlanta will each find their own familiar, comfortable portals to the world of music – but they will cross paths in a sunny alcove, will linger to admire a trio of Pakistani musicians seated in a close circle in the center, and then will notice each other and the enjoyment they have been sharing together. Kindred musical souls from disparate backgrounds and cultures will meet each here, grab a bit of lunch together between activities and form lasting ties based on a mutual passion for music.
This will not be a theme park, although it will be interactive, fun and full of laughter. It will not be a scholarly facility, but it will be historically accurate, educational, and a place for expanding the world’s knowledge about music with academic integrity. It will not be a children’s museum, but it will be an extraordinary place for young people to interact with and learn about music, in school groups or with their families.
The Museum will not be another Hall of Fame. This will be a people’s museum, not primarily designed to celebrate celebrity. Neither will it be about a particular genre of music – it will be about all music and the uncountable and wonderful ways in which music pervades our lives. It will not be just for accomplished experts, or for the musically successful. This museum will be for everyone.
People will come to the Museum from all over the planet to discover more about the music that makes their hearts sing, their toes tap and their heads swim. Their experience will not be solely of the mind, like the quiet, passive and intellectual experiences that the word "museum" often invokes. Our visitors will be moved – the Museum of Music will be an emotional place, a place of the heart.
And our visitors will return again and again. Like the jazz, bluegrass and hip-hop improvisations that are among the many musics that will regularly swirl in our halls, the Museum of Music will be constantly changing, and no two visits will ever be the same.
The Museum will be the place people turn to when they want to know how music works – and why it matters.
The Museum of Music will be the coolest place on earth.
-- Museum of Music Concept Paper, Aug. 2002