Motown Museum gets $1 million gift for expansion

Stephanie Steinberg
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Motown Museum received a $1 million gift Wednesday to help expand the iconic house on West Grand Boulevard into a 50,000-square-foot Detroit tourist destination.

The gift from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, which has awarded $15 million to Metro Detroit arts organization, will support the Education and Community Engagement space on the museum’s campus. The hub will serve as an incubator for young artists and host Motown’s EDU summer camp for high school students, among other programs.

“This gift will allow us to expand our educational programming and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to harness the power of their own unique talents,” Motown Museum CEO Robin R. Terry said in a statement.

The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation launched in 2009 to support culture, the environment and communities in Metro Detroit. It has since awarded $77.5 million to various organizations.

John Erb, president and chair of the Erb Family Foundation, said in a press release that he hopes the gift will continue “the legacy of Motown Records’ entrepreneurship with students.”

“Berry Gordy’s vision, drive and determination allowed him to take Motown Records from a family business to an international sensation,” Erb said. “I learned these values from working in Erb Lumber, my own family’s business, and am excited that the museum will continue to share these lessons with young Detroiters.”

Last October, Motown Museum announced a $50 million capital campaign to expand the museum by adding interactive exhibits, a theater, recording studios and larger museum store. The proposed buildings would be spread over 10 city lots behind the Hitsville U.S.A. house where Gordy founded Motown Records in 1959.

“Hitsville is the crown jewel, and will remain the authentic crown jewel of the expanded museum,” Terry told the Detroit News last year. “Hitsville will look the same. The new construction will just enhance and complement it.”

Ford Motor Co. and UAW-Ford pledged a $6 million gift for the expansion. The William Davidson Foundation has also given $2 million.

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Twitter: @Steph_Steinberg