According to the museum’s website, the proposed facility would include “25,000 square feet of programming space, a 100-seat theater as well as technology and artifact-driven exhibits” dedicated to the history of blues music in general, as well to St. Louis blues history specifically.

With the blues in the news this week, the museum’s board chairman Rob Endicott, an attorney with Bryan Cave as well as the trumpet player for the Voodoo Blues Band, provided an update on the project’s status.

“Right now, we continue to remain in the planning phase for the build-out,” Endicott says. “One of the premier exhibit designers in the U.S. [Gallagher & Associates, with offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Singapore] has done some work for us, to help us figure out how we’d bring the space to life from a curatorial standpoint.”

Shemekia Copeland is the new Queen of the Blues.
Amanda Gresham
Shemekia Copeland is the new Queen of the Blues.

Endicott says the museum organizers also have received considerable help in developing a preliminary curatorial plan from Bob Santelli, who currently heads the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and previously worked with both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

While the NBM has been approved officially as a not-for-profit organization for tax purposes, the budget for building the museum and the plan to raise the money are both still being developed, Endicott says. Organizers are “working quietly behind the scenes to gather our donor base,” talking with foundations, corporations and wealthy individuals who might be persuaded to back the effort. Ideally, the museum would be able to secure some major gifts before launching a fundraising drive aimed at the general public. Later this year they hope to have a timetable set for the museum’s opening.

In the meantime, he says the museum plans to stay involved with “some targeted things in the community,” such as sponsoring ten local high school juniors and seniors on a trip to the White House in Feburary. There, they attended an educational program celebrating blues music hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. Endicott says the museum will have an information booth at the Bluesweek Festival and will continue to “look for opportunities to further the mission and get the word out that we’re doing this thing.”

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