Indianola, Mississippi: Plans for a museum honoring international Bluesman B.B. King are well underway, guided by a development team with excellent credentials and input at a recent planning summit, according to Museum Foundation President Bill McPherson.
Members of the development team assembled in Mr. King’s hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, on October 9 – 10 for the charrette. In attendance were team members including Architect Stephen Perkins of the Washington, D.C. and Dallas firm of ForrestPerkins; Patrick Gallagher, CEO, Deena Gift, Rob Malootian and Cybelle Lewis-Jones of the museum interpretive design and exhibit firm Gallagher and Associates of Bethesda, Maryland; Tom Moriarity and Leslie Smith of Economics Research Associates, international consultants to the entertainment and leisure industry with offices in Washington, D.C. and throughout the world; Paul Rosenthal, storyline consultant and Al Hillmann and Michal Carr of the film production company Hillmann and Carr, also of Washington.
Among those invited guests attending were blues historian and King biographer, Charles Sawyer, and Executive Director of the National Music Center and Museum, James Weaver, as well as founding editor of Living blues Magazine, Jim O’Neil.
The $10 million museum facility will be approximately 15,000 square feet upon completion and designed for an interactive and educational experience. The museum has been sanctioned by Mr. King and Floyd Lieberman, CEO of Lieberman Management, as the official B.B. King Museum. The facility is projected to open in 2005, during the international celebration of B.B. King’s 80th year.
During the October planning summit, the development team and invited guests affirmed direction for the Museum. In addition to telling the B.B. King story, it will serve as a unique regional and national learning resource, committed to the creation of an innovative curriculum for K-12 and Lifelong Learning modules. Lesson plans and outreach initiatives will be created to encourage primary, secondary and continuing education groups from the region to visit the B.B. King Museum for tours and educational opportunities.
The B.B. King Museum will also seek to establish partnerships with other institutions. Its goal is to leverage resources in order to create greater museum exposure to potential visitors and students. The museum can thereby document best practices and understanding about the effectiveness and success of its outreach programs. The Museum will strive to create pathways to its resources through the development of digital media for internet and DVD distribution.
King visited Indianola, Mississippi, in early June 2003 to meet with the Foundation Board and perform his annual Homecoming concert. Upon viewing the museum site, he remarked that the vintage cotton gin building located there is the same structure in which he had worked as a youth. The site, located near the downtown district on Second Street, was donated to the B.B. King Museum Foundation by the City of Indianola. Current plans call for the early brick cotton gin building to be renovated as part of the museum campus, which will include new facilities as well.
The museum’s connection to the place where Mr. King grew up and first played the blues is significant, according to Foundation President, Bill McPherson. McPherson sees the Museum as a way to showcase the origins of the Delta Blues, America’s root music, as well as the accomplishments of a man who started life with few advantages, yet rose to become a musician recognized around the world.
“From bare beginnings, B.B. King has become legendary, performing in over 90 countries and influencing such musical icons as John Lennon and Eric Clapton,” remarked McPherson. “The B.B. King Museum is the place where we can honor the talent and dreams of a Delta kid who became ‘The King of the Blues’.”