$50M Motown Museum expansion hits halfway point in fund raising

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Detroit — The planned $50 million expansion for Detroit’s Motown Museum has reached the halfway point in its fundraising campaign, a moment its founder Berry Gordy celebrated on Sunday with a special groundbreaking ceremony.

Gordy and other special guests broke ground at Hitsville Next, the museum’s planned 40,000-square-foot campus center for innovative educational and community programming. Planned improvements include new interactive exhibits, a theater, recording studios and an enlarged museum store to the current 10,000-square-foot attraction.

Elesha Bridgers, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Berry Gordy, Robin Terry, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The groundbreaking also marked the start of construction on the first of four phases of the expansion project announced in 2016.

Gordy was joined by Robin Terry, chairwoman and CEO of Motown Museum, as well as  his great niece; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; and others.

"This is the moment the world has been waiting for," Terry said. "I couldn’t be more delighted to stand with all of our supporters who have made this possible."

Jimmy Settles, Jim Vella, Elesha Bridgers, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Berry Gordy, Robin Terry, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Ethan Davidson, Faye Nelson break ground on Hitsville Next.

Hitsville, the modest West Grand Boulevard bungalow where the early Motown hits were recorded, will not change, officials said. The proposed new structure and parking would sit on 10 city lots on Ferry Park Avenue behind Hitsville.

Museum official said Hitsville Next is designed to inspire future generations of creatives and entrepreneurs who follow in the footsteps of Motown legends.

Motown Museum already offers four programs as part of its Hitsville Next initiative, and the expansion project makes new programs possible that provide education and resources to budding artists and entrepreneurs in Detroit and beyond, officials said. 

Workforce development training programs will also be offered with the idea of creating opportunities for individuals to gain skills needed to be successful in the music industry and compete in the modern-day creative economy. 

Children from the Motown Museum IGNITE Camp perform.

"The Motown Museum is a celebration of the music that changed America right here in the city where it was born and the legacy that Berry Gordy built," Whitmer said.

"This museum will create opportunities for Detroit kids to learn more about their hometown and feel proud of where they come from."

New programs at Hitsville Next will begin in 2020 with learning opportunities and mentorships available to young people through young adulthood.

The new master class series will connect middle school and high school students to professionals in a variety of business and entertainment disciplines, fostering career dreams from a young age. The Entrepreneur in Residence program will connect ages 13-18 and young adults 19 and up with mentors.

Last year the Motown Museum had more than 70,000 paying visitors.