Taylor Swift has pledged $4 million to fund a new education center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The 7,500+ square foot space, which will encompass parts of two floors and feature three classrooms and a state-of-the-art children’s exhibit gallery, is scheduled to open in early 2014.
Swift’s gift is the largest capital contribution by an individual artist in the museum’s 45-year history, prompting the museum to name the new space the Taylor Swift Education Center. The gift was made in conjunction with Working on a Building: Country Music Lives Here, the capital campaign that will finance the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s expansion from 140,000 square feet to more than 350,000 square feet.
“Taylor Swift represents country music’s best traditions,” said Museum Director Kyle Young. “She is a gifted singer-songwriter whose deeply personal songs resonate with music fans around the world, and a dynamic live performer whose open heart and engaging personality allow her to make even the largest stadium shows an intimate experience. Her many accomplishments – including being the youngest artist to single-handedly write and sing a No. 1 country song – have made music history, and she has been an ambassador for country music, raising awareness of our genre literally around the globe.”
The new education center will increase the museum’s educational capacity up to sevenfold and will include three classrooms and a children’s exhibition gallery. On the third floor, two traditional classrooms and one “wet” classroom space will be used by museum educators for current educational offerings, including the museum’s flagship program, Words & Music; distance learning programs; and family programs such as the Musical Petting Zoo. The “wet classroom” will feature a utility floor, lending itself to the museum’s Make Letterpress Art with Hatch Show Print family program and similar (messy) offerings.
The additional classroom spaces will also allow the museum to develop new educational activities, potentially including after-school programs, teen-centric programs, multi-week workshops for youths, adults and senior citizens, and more. Additionally, the classroom spaces will be adjacent to a visible storage area and design studio; this space will feature thematic displays of artifacts, e.g. dozens of banjos, and allow students to observe museum curators at work. The children’s gallery, situated on the second floor, will be a dedicated exhibit space for young patrons and will be filled with hands-on, interactive exhibits.