Hip hop is getting its very own museum in its birthplace in New York State.
Hip hop is the name for the music, dance and fashion culture that developed around 50 years ago in the New York City borough of The Bronx.
The permanent home of the Universal Hip Hop Museum, set to open in 2023, celebrates the culture’s history. For now, a small pop-up exhibit shows what visitors can expect.
Rocky Bucano is the museum’s Executive Director. He noted that until now, “there isn’t a physical place that is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of hip hop history and culture.”
Bucano told the Reuters news agency that the museum started as an idea about eight years ago. Rappers Kurtis Blow, Africa Bambaataa and Grand Master Melly Mel wanted to make sure that “the stories can be told accurately by the people who created the history themselves,” Bucano said.
Other performers have since become partners in the project. They include Nas, Ice-T and LL Cool J.
Hip hop was born in the south Bronx in the 1970s. The dancing, rapping and deejaying parts of hip-hop grew out of the difficult inner-city environment. Hip hop has since developed into part of popular culture.
The new exhibit tells about the early days of hip hop. The exhibit will be replaced every six months with the next period in the culture’s development.
When the museum is complete, the 5,570 square meter space will have interactive exhibits, live shows, film screenings and conferences.
One room will have a ‘breakbeat narratives’ interactive console. The device was created with Microsoft Corporation and the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality. It takes visitors on a hip hop history trip based on their reactions to different characters in a game.
“It forms a custom narrative of hip hop history based on their musical preferences,” Bucano said.
The exhibit will include Kurtis Blow’s original beat box machine, and the first and second rap records ever released.
The grand opening, in 2023, is planned to mark 50 years of hip hop. Work on the project will begin in July.
I’m John Russell.
Alicia Powell reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
museum – n. a building in which objects of historical, scientific or cultural interest are stored and shown to the public
fashion – n. a popular look; clothing design
exhibit – n. an object or a collection of objects that have been put out in a public space for people to look at; something shown in an exhibition
preview – n. an example of what something will look like
dedicate – v. to officially make (something) a place for honoring or remembering a person or an event
deejay – v. to play popular recorded music on the radio or at a party or nightclub, especially as a job; to work as a disc jockey
interactive – adj. built to react to the actions or commands of a user
console – n. a flat surface that contains the controls for a machine, for a piece of electrical equipment
character – n. a person in a play or movie
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