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  4. Caught Between the Spectacular and the Vernacular: The Illusory Demos of the Popular Music Museum

The Second Life of Sally Mottram. The Possession of Mr Cave. How Shall I Know You? Curse of the Night Wolf. Tea at the Midland. Smell of Summer Grass: Pursuing Happiness at Perch Hill. In the Palace Gardens. Dancing in the Dark. The Facts of Life.

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A Bunch of Fives. The Fowler Family Business. Winterwood and Other Hauntings. The dark woods of the mind. A Stranger With a Bag. Three and Other Stories. Castles In The Air. Cobwebs and Cream Teas. Dry Rot and Daffodils. Three Score Years and Ten.

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Non disponibile per l'acquisto. Continua a fare acquisti Pagamento Continua a fare acquisti. The attendant presence of, in various permutations, shopping malls, themed restaurants and bars, entertainment-oriented museum and gallery installations, gentrified housing developments, conference complexes, waterfront pleasure places, and professional sport mega-complexes has, at least partially, precipitated the advancement of a new epoch in the material re formation of the American [sic] urban landscape.

Instead, these museums are one small, but symbolically potent, high-profile part of a dominant mode of urban development which prioritizes tourism and gentrification over social development. In the cases that follow below, multiple levels of government collaborated with their primary constituents, real estate developers and allied businesses, to effect the necessary harnessing of public subsidy and appropriation of public resources to provide a low risk context for investors, and eventually, consumers.

These measures displaced existing residents and dismantled pre-existing communities to smooth the way ahead. These museums moved into the places left behind. The Experience Music Project EMP [38] is set in the Seattle Center, a acre plot of land two kilometers northwest of downtown that is the product of long tradition of central planning by American urban elites besotted by their own visions of the future.

The newspapers reported the historic carnage with enthusiasm: It meant progress toward the much anticipated fair There was comparatively little outcry from the public, no landmarks process or historic districts to protect significant structures. By and large, the Warren Avenue neighborhood was considered blight Slum clearance was thought to be good urban policy. Since its creation, this parcel of land has become a routine repository of varied and repeated planning efforts all supported through public subsidy and the friendly debt of publicly issued bonds to facilitate its maintenance and development.

These periodic spasms of civic virtue have resulted in the gradual closing off of the district behind the virtual walls of high-profile, high-priced venues and attractions, few of which contribute to the costs of administering the area despite substantial public support. First, both were the results of elite planning sold through brash promises of wealth and prosperity for all.

In each case, planners pushed a vision of a future that was inclusive and would be produced through the grand achievements of social uplift made possible through open and accessible educational endeavors that were closely linked to science and technology. Consonant with visions of a harmonious future defined by the popular blessings of science and technology, the EMP has also routinely sold itself as an open forum for participation in the social life of the city and the attendant social uplift this would produce.

Among its own stream of intemperate claims was the claim to be not only reflecting, but inspiring and shaping, the music of the future. It did so in part through its own grand projections of , visitors per year, most of whom would clearly be expected to partake in some form of museum-sponsored tutelage. My great hope is that they go out and motivate others to contribute and inspire. The Seattle Center has long been accused of failing to integrate into its immediate surroundings, a failure that was a result of design as much as circumstance.

Despite the repeated investments the city has made in the Seattle Center, the city continues to suffer the characteristic outcomes of dual development. Tourism has been booming in the city for nearly twenty years, but so have poverty and homelessness, [56] economic inequalities that result from wages being kept aggressively low in large areas of employment.

The museum does indeed inspire and excite. Their visitor numbers and service to the community seem solid. The EMP is part of a complex of symbolically effective images about Seattle that, when sold to the wider world, [58] drive the very dual development that undermines the communities that produced much of the music the museum celebrates. Nearly identical phenomena can be found in Memphis. The official Memphis tourism guide presents it to us like this:. If Memphis music moves you, how will you feel at its source? Star-struck, rolling through the gates of Graceland?

Again, we see an appeal to an anthropological understanding of place, a place of innate social and historical connection linking the past to the present.

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The primary material form of this engagement comes through the once-reviled but now-sainted Beale Street corridor and the adjacent Peabody Entertainment District, which both occupy most of the southern end of the downtown. Beale Street has been justly celebrated, not only as a particularly vibrant corridor of commercial activity, but as a socially and historically important place through which powerfully influential aspects of African American culture developed for nearly a century. The literal reconstruction of the four blocks of Beale Street that are now the primary tourist attraction are seamlessly connected to the larger Peabody Entertainment District containing FedEx Forum basketball arena, the AutoZone Park baseball stadium, and several other attractions.

As with many cities across the American South, Memphis has been long subjected to forms of urban planning and municipal governance that entrenched the power of industrial interests and economic elites. The music-themed gentrification of Beale Street has become the conceptual anchor for the perpetually approaching renaissance of the city. Its placement at the edge of a jumbled plaza renders it nearly invisible, overshadowed as it is by billboards and by the Gibson Guitar Factory sign across the street.

Boosters have continually claimed that the immediate benefits of the project serve all. Importantly, the specific types of poverty very nearly match those found in Seattle, with African American residents accumulating the least wealth, the fewest assets, and the lowest salaries all despite a long boom in tourism. As with Memphis, Nashville has also created a downtown entertainment district in which music-themed attractions, in this case the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the adjacent behemoth called the Music City Center, have displaced correspondingly wide chunks of downtown.


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Standing at the corner of Fifth Avenue South and Demonbreun Street in the lower Broadway district, it is difficult not to feel intimidated by the scale of architectural hubris. Figure 5 The district now consists almost entirely of sporting facilities, themed restaurants, and extensive hotel complexes produced by an extraordinary rate of gentrification.

It was funded by luxurious tax breaks and markedly creative debt financing devices offered to international capital markets, debt vehicles which still hang over the city. Each, along with the adjacent Bridgestone Arena, anchored a process that has drastically changed the shape of the South Broadway district and surrounding neighborhoods.

Large civic projects like the new convention center continue to gobble up landmarks and venue space that keeps the music in Music City. Throughout the guide, stereotypically thin platinum blonde women and roundish, bearded men ply their musical trades as small groups gazing reverently at the displays at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on the opposing pages. The guide gives us a good long look at the overwhelmingly dense forms of musical sociality for which Nashville is famous, the music acting as a synecdoche for the seemingly endless forms of communion on offer.

The scale of development and rhetorical centrality of musical experience is similar in the gentrification in downtown Los Angeles. Following the dual development model, the city participated in creating L. Live, a brightly lit behemoth, home to The Grammy Museum, that occupies a similar downtown terrain. Its dazzling exteriors bely the complex and bitter contests fought over it for years.

Figures 6 and 7 L. Live was part of a larger redevelopment of the downtown centered around art, and later, shopping and upscale residences. Fifteen years ago, the area was an urban wasteland: Now Leiweke can point to Staples Center, a twenty-thousand-seat arena, and to L. Live, a bustling entertainment district, which are almost entirely owned by A. Beneath flashing billboards advertising L.

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Live sponsors like Coca-Cola and Toyota, there are dozens of restaurants, a J. The developments spoke for themselves and the same patterns of public subsidy and private gain noted above were repeated here. The efforts instead concentrate on a surface beautification. The gentrification of downtown Los Angeles has reproduced the most common outcomes of the dual development pathway in which international markets of investors and tourists are courted at the expense of the social development of those communities most directly affected by the developments. The focus on tourism, real estate, and construction has confronted working-class and poor residents of downtown with the strains of trying to afford increased rents on a dwindling number of inexpensive places to live.

This in part exacerbated a rise in homelessness which grew into enough of a crisis to attract the attention of United Nations Human Rights Council who sent its envoy, Richard Alston to investigate; his response was highly critical. It is sold as open, inclusive, interactive experience that act as a place of social inclusion, while still symbolically anchoring and physically intertwined with the non-place of LA Live and its powerful exclusions. It is worth briefly examining the markedly similar patterns of dual development in major cities that have also been implemented in the UK.

Interestingly, however, the museums examined here are linked to one another in unexpected ways. Both follow the dual development model and, in each case, music museums are only tiny bits of glittery attraction whose confected advertised image is far more impressive than their actual presence. Further, their appearance and connotations have been used to smooth the way for the much larger and more lucrative schemes that followed. These music museums formed small, not overly successful parts of much larger schemes to transform these areas in their totality. It fell into serious financial problems almost immediately after its opening when the anticipated annual flood of 12 million visitors did not appear.

As in downtown Los Angeles, a huge parcel of the Greenwich Peninsula has since been ceded to a single developer to implement a year masterplan to develop one of the biggest and most luxurious housing developments in the UK. The faces of music fans like us confronted visitors in genre appropriate facial expressions and clothing.

Figures 8 and 9 Upon entering the building, you enter a circular shopping mall, providing a perceptually engulfing ring of amenities around the well-used, high-profile performance arena. The BME itself was slotted into a comparatively small space tucked away above the ground level. The walk there presented visitors with fairly cheap impermanent cardboard ads to lead you in the right direction. The BME was housed here for five years before its move to that other capital of British music, Liverpool. Liverpool, too, bears the sharp marks of the ongoing transformation of its waterfront and extensive docks areas.

The more consequential recent policy development, however, was the granting of the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone in Covering two broad areas on either side of the River Mersey, the zone offers substantial tax breaks and infrastructure subsidies to businesses that relocate there. The Liverpool Model has proved itself to be a comparatively acceptable way to push public resources into private hands. Perhaps the most significant—and widely reported, though not universally felt—element of success was the apparent corollary around morale, confidence and perceptions, particularly in relation to the city itself.

Press coverage changed significantly in both tone and focus, national surveys showed improvements in public perceptions, and visitors felt safer, enjoying the overall atmosphere and welcome and rating Liverpool better than previously against other cities. Meanwhile, the Liverpool City Council has discovered what other cities who have followed the nostrums of dual development have discovered.

As of , it projected that it was likely that it would no longer be able to fund even the most basic services by One of the primary ways of analyzing and explaining the range of developments examined here has been through the many extremely influential theses on the relationship between the arts sector and urban renewal. This in turn means that cities become the defining centers of creativity and innovation that have made the places that host them most amenably safer, more prosperous, and more diverse.

Repackaging urban cultural artifacts as competitive assets, they value them literally not for their own sake, but in terms of their supposed economic utility. In order to be enacted, they presume and work with gentrification, conceived as a positive urban process. Each museum has based its institutional legitimacy on the appropriation of the affective labor of the musicians and listeners whose agency they have sought to display in their collections and exhibitions.

These museums have done this through the continuing collection and display of a huge range of aural, visual, and material artifacts. This inevitably results in the imposition of some kind of institutional imprimatur on the music's circulation and its meaning. When we do this, we find another less comforting story. As a result, they become far more intimately affecting and personally eloquent than any mere conglomeration of bricks, glass, chrome, and conceit could.

Outlining the Demos of the Popular Music Museum

It is this crucial, if not defining aspect of these institutions that needs far greater attention. For what we are meant to experience inside these places in some significant way dependent on forces pervasively in evidence outside. While thoroughly shaping and defining these places, the power that makes them, and makes them sensually satisfying, remains outside, excluded, without any immediate, apparent, or necessary expression inside. Experience Music Project, the experience Seattle: Experience Music Project, , n. Experience Music Project, the building Seattle: Andreas Huyssen, Twilight Memories: Routledge, , 15; Ivan Karp et al.

Duke University Press, , https: I have studied nine such sites for this project with the notable exception of the well-studied Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. This was due to a practical lack of time and money.

Caught Between the Spectacular and the Vernacular: The Illusory Demos of the Popular Music Museum

The Secret Stories of Rock and Roll: The First 25 Years New York: Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Zone Books, , Michael Denning, Noise Uprising: Verso, , 7—9. Tony Bennett, The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics New York: Columbia University Press, , https: Cultural Spaces of the Commodity New York: Mannequins, Museums, and Modernity Princeton, N.

Princeton University Press, The Museum Journal 54, no. Janet Marstine Malden, MA: Blackwell, , —51, https: Bloomsbury Academic, , https: A Critical Introduction , eds. Routledge, , 80— Silk and David L. An Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity London: Verso, ,