It’s hard to believe that nearly half a century has passed since DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy Campbell threw a “back to school jam” in the South Bronx rec room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue back in 1973, a party that marked the birth of hip hop. The founding members of the forthcoming Bronx’s Universal Hip Hop Museum want the genre to thrive for a half century more. Set to open in 2023, the museum will be ready just in time to observe hip hop culture’s 50th anniversary.
The museum will be situated within Bronx Point, a development that breaks ground later this year just around the corner from Yankee Stadium. The museum itself will occupy over 50,000 square feet of space that will be designed to host performances, films, seminars, and labs that pertain to the sounds, the art, the personalities, and the history of hip hop. Seminal figures from the hip hop world are already actively involved in the project, with Ice-T on the founding board of directors and a who’s who of cultural ambassadors that include Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, LL Cool J, Q Tip, and Nas.
Chuck D of Public Enemy, who recently joined on as the chairman of the celebrity board, told Rolling Stone Magazine that he intends to honor the tradition of hip hop by encouraging the genre to reinvent itself for future generations of artists and audiences. “Hip-hop is possibly the last remaining DIY genre,” he said. “The museum will be a solid base of recognition of the past. But it will also be involved in hip-hop’s [ongoing] definition, protecting it and making it viable for the future.”
The Universal Hip Hop Museum is proud 2 announce that Chuck D will serve as the Chairman of the UHHM's Celebrity Board. “The credibility he brings to our team is mammoth”-@KurtisBlow1, 12/19/18, @HipHopDX. #HipHop #UHHM #UniversalHipHopMuseum #PublicEnemy https://t.co/UIpLQYv6mA pic.twitter.com/jxy5nViAlJ
— Universal Hip Hop Museum (@uhhmuseum) December 20, 2018
One way that the museum will make this happen is by integrating lots of interactive technology into the museum in order to tell the story of hip hop; this decision makes total sense, considering the dynamic way that hip hop culture manifests in dialogue, action, creation, and destruction. “We’re talking avatars and holograms and VR (virtual reality),” Kurtis Blow told PIX11 last month. The institution intends to provide tons of resources that allow visitors of all ages to become a virtual DJ, create recordings, and hone their graffiti skills. Meanwhile, its brick-and-mortar home in the South Bronx will work to spotlight the dynamic community where black and Latino dancers, DJs, MCs, and artists flourished despite being left behind by the people who ran society.
The Universal Hip Hop Museum is currently in the process of raising funds in anticipation of its opening; currently, they have raised $20 million but will need to reach their total goal of $80 million before the museum’s grand opening. If you can’t wait to get your historical hip hop on, look for the institution to start holding pop-up events beginning this summer.