International Superstar Presents Special Guitar to Museum for Display
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Seven-time Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift officially opened the education center that bears her name at the newly expanded Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 12, 2013.
The Taylor Swift Education Center includes classrooms and a learning lab with built-in technology to facilitate distance learning and outreach programs. An interactive exhibit gallery will open as part of the center in March 2014.
Swift’s $4 million gift to fund the new education center is the largest capital contribution by an individual artist in the museum’s 46-year history.
“Today is a great day for us,” Museum Director Kyle Young said during his remarks. “We are here to celebrate a milestone for the institution.”
“I really appreciate the Country Music Hall of Fame opening the classrooms first,” Swift said before cutting the ribbon. “They wanted to make sure it was an effective learning space—that was priority number one.”
Swift hopes the new education center will foster in its visitors a lifelong interest in learning about arts and music. “A lot of my music education happened outside of school,” the singer noted. “It happened because my parents were willing to drive me to countless children’s theater and local theater productions or take me to guitar lessons. I’m so glad this is a space where there will be demonstrations and instruments that kids can try without having to spend money and buy one for themselves. They want to come here, and they want to learn. They want to hear a songwriter talk about what it is to really craft a song.”
Seven outstanding high school students—selected from Metro Nashville Public Schools—attended the private ceremony, representing the audience for much of the programming planned for the new education center. They were joined by a group of dignitaries, music business executives, museum donors, education leaders and members of the media.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean thanked the country superstar for giving back to the city where she lives and where she launched her career. “I talk a lot about the importance of education to our city, and I talk all the time about how important the music industry is to our city,” he said. “The grand opening of the Taylor Swift Education Center is a significant combination of those two things, and it’s really important to our city’s future.
“The Country Music Hall of Fame plays the important role of preserving country music and educating folks about the history, culture and impact of a genre that is the very heart and soul of who we are here in Music City,” Dean continued. “I believe the Taylor Swift Education Center will continue and build on that great tradition. It will become a great place for people to gather and learn.”
During Saturday’s 30-minute ceremony, Swift presented an artifact for the museum to display: a custom-made Taylor K65ce acoustic-electric twelve-string guitar, made largely of Hawaiian koa wood and featuring inlaid mother-of-pearl on its fretboard. “This is the first guitar that I obsessed over and ended up buying,” she remarked. “I wrote some of my earliest songs on it when I was 13 and 14.”
Swift, 23, has a long association with the museum. She signed her record contract there as a teenager, and gave one of her first public performances on the building’s plaza. She has performed at several of the museum’s All for the Hall fundraising shows and has donated numerous items to the museum. Her stand-alone multi-media exhibition has drawn large crowds every day for years. The 2012 exhibit Taylor Swift: Speak Now – Treasures from the World Tour was incredibly popular, and the first-ever of its kind, paving the way for subsequent contemporary exhibits.
Fielding questions from Young, Swift talked about her support for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
“This museum means so much to me,” Swift said. “Walking through the [galleries] and hearing Australian accents and hearing people speaking Japanese and seeing people from Germany—it feels like a new wave of interest in Nashville. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that there is a place where people can come, and not only learn about the legends of country music, but they can also get an inside scoop of what’s happening today in country music. I appreciate the museum keeping it modern while also celebrating what was in country music’s past.”
The Taylor Swift Education Center allows the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to expand its current school and family programs, as well as develop new programs and serve new audiences. The 7,000-square-foot center includes:
• Three classrooms, including the SunTrust Classroom and the Bill and June Denny Classroom. A “wet” classroom with a utility floor, will be used for the museum’s Make Letterpress Art with Hatch Show Print family program and similar offerings.
• The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation Learning Lab with built-in technology to facilitate distance learning and outreach programs, and videoconference technology donated by Cisco.
• A family and student art gallery space.
• An interactive exhibit gallery (opening March 2014).
The new center will be the home of the museum’s flagship education program, Words & Music, which teaches students the craft of songwriting. Fittingly, Swift’s trophies from the Nashville Songwriters Association International are on display in the education center’s foyer. On Sunday, October 13, Swift was named NSAI’s Songwriter/Artist of the Year for the sixth time, setting a new record. She remains the youngest artist to receive the honor.
During the ceremony opening the Taylor Swift Education Center, NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison spoke of her impact. “People come from all over the world to our building every week to be songwriters and artists.” he said. “Every week somebody cites your influence, Taylor.”
Swift’s $4 million 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.
“The Taylor Swift Education Center has a name on it that will bring instant global attention,” Mayor Dean said. “That’s not just a good thing for the Country Music Hall of Fame, it’s a great thing for the entire music industry and our city. Her partnership with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum speaks to who she is as an individual and it’s clear she has the heart for giving back. On behalf of the entire city of Nashville, thank you, Taylor, for this generous gift to the Country Music Hall of Fame and thank you for all you do for our city. You are a wonderful citizen.”
Accredited by the American Alliance 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 http://www.countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.