Six-time Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift has pledged $4 million to fund a new education center at the Country Music Hall of Fame®and Museum. The more than 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.
Swift has for years been a generous supporter of the museum, performing for the institution’s 2007 All for the Hall New York, 2009 We’re All for the Hall and 2010 All for the Hall Los Angeles benefits. She has also loaned the museum dresses, stage costumes and instruments for display; a free-standing, Taylor Swift multimedia exhibit has been one of the museum’s most popular attractions since its debut in May, 2010.
“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 #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.
“Taylor is an artist who has always been ahead of the curve,” Young continued. “By stepping forward to fund our education center, she has once again demonstrated that she has an eye on our industry’s future. We are deeply indebted to Taylor for this wonderful gift, which will help us continue to fulfill our educational mission and serve our worldwide audience. It is not an overstatement to say that the Taylor Swift Education Center will have a profound impact on our museum, our new campus, our city and even our country. It will truly be the heart of our living museum, educating and inspiring young people and families, teaching them country music history and helping them to make meaningful connections between the music and their own lives.”
The new education center will increase the museum’s educational capacity up to seven-fold 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.