The International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) and Hall of Fame broke ground on their new $15.4 million facility at 311 West 2nd Street this afternoon.
“We did it,” exclaimed Mayor Ron Payne, referring to the long road it took to make the dream a reality, including several trips to Frankfort to convince former Governor Steve Beshear to approve $5 million toward the project.
But the idea for the new building began with a trip to Dubuque, Iowa, where a delegation was advised to find Owensboro’s niche and pursue it. “We listened,” Payne said. “We found our niche, and it is bluegrass music. This new Bluegrass center will make Owensboro unique to the whole world.”
The fully funded $15.4 million project is a collaboration between the City of Owensboro, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the IBMM. The new Bluegrass Museum will house the world’s foremost collection of bluegrass artifacts, memorabilia, and music recordings in a safe environment for generations to come. With views of the Ohio River, the new Bluegrass Museum and Hall of Fame will be the focal point of the City of Owensboro. It will be the only full-scale Bluegrass Music Museum in the world, including:
- a 450 seat concert hall,
- recording studio,
- an outdoor concert area to seat 2,000,
- an expansive gift shop,
- research library,
- teaching rooms,
- and a rooftop restaurant overlooking downtown.
Peyronnin Construction of Evansville, Indiana was awarded the construction contract to build the new Bluegrass Museum and Hall of Fame; completion is estimated to be spring of 2018.
The groundbreaking was a “historic and wonderful day” for Terry Woodward, whom Payne dubbed “Mr. Bluegrass.” Woodward was instrumental in the formation of the IBMM and the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), which was originally located in Owensboro when it began in 1986, but has since relocated.
Woodward gave credit to a long line of supporters, including board members, city and government officials, the extended Bluegrass music “family”, and hundreds of private donors whose donations supplied the seed money for the project.
“This isn’t just a building people will visit once,” Woodward said. “It’s a facility they will come back to time and again. We plan to have Bluegrass concerts every week.”
Woodward also gave a nod to five Bluegrass Hall of Fame members in attendance at the groundbreaking: Del McCoury, Jesse McReynolds, Eddie Adcock, J.D. Crowe, and Larry Sparks, the newest inductee.
Chris Joslin, Executive Director of the IBMM, also thanked the Hall of Famers for their contribution to Bluegrass music as we know it. “These guys have passed the music down. That’s how Bluegrass works,” Joslin said.
The Bluegrass Music Museum and Hall of Fame will pay tribute to the history of Bluegrass music, showcase current artists, and inspire future musicians through lessons and camps.
“No other city is investing this much into Bluegrass,” Joslin said.