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Motown Museum – October 2019 Update

In the late summer of 2019, Motown Museum completed the construction of Dancing in the Street Park and began fully activating the space with placemaking programs. The park quickly became a popular gathering space for museum visitors, but the immediate community took longer to immerse themselves in the space.

Before the park was built, the main attraction at the Motown Museum campus was the paid guided tour. For this reason, people assumed that the park and programs were for paid guests. To change this assumption, we met with neighborhood leaders such as Brazelton Florists, James H. Cole Home for Funerals, Henry Ford Hospital, and West Grand Boulevard Collaborative. We engaged in an open forum with the Kresge Foundation Arts and Culture staff to discuss how current and future museum developments can create pathways to help each other.

The forum was successful and participation in the park increased. Two specific activations included: the engagement of Dancing in the Street Park for Cole’s 100th Anniversary Community Celebration, and Neighborhoods Day 2019, which connected residents with ARISE Detroit and celebrated the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood.

From June to September, the Motown Museum created over 40 free programs and events in the Dancing in the Street Park. Programs included: cardio drumming, piano, vocal, and guitar lessons, Temps and Tops Dance Party, hometown music open performances, face painting, balloon making, Poetry Lunch and Learn, Bass Players Day, caricature drawing, spoken word performances, an emcee workshop, and King’s 12 and Under Poetry Jam.

The last weekend of September hosted two very special events in the Dancing in The Street Park. On Sept. 21, more than 100 Motown legends and alumni gathered from all over the country for a special Motown Picnic in the Park in celebration of Motown’s 60th Anniversary. The next day, Motown Museum held the official groundbreaking ceremony for the expanded Museum in the Park. Attendees included Motown Founder Berry Gordy, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and other leaders, donors, and Motown alumni.

Some of the challenges the Motown Museum faced with this space included maintaining the furniture since it is an outdoor space. To stay within budget, we bought chairs, tables, and umbrellas that may not have been sturdy enough for the daily uses of the park. Future organizations that attempt similar projects may want to consider investing in more durable equipment for outdoor spaces.

In the end, we are very pleased with the results of our new space and are already planning for events in 2020. For questions about our projects, please contact Motown Museum Director of Development and Community Activation Paul Barker at 313.875.2264 ext. 226 or by email at pbarker@motownmuseum.org.