As of this morning, representatives for and supporters of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum have launched a $75 million capital campaign. dubbed Working on a Building: Country Music Lives Here, that will finance the museum’s 200,000-square-foot expansion.
According to news shared from the July 28, 2011, press conference and formal announcement ceremony, which was held in the museum’s Ford Theater, the planned expanion will double the museum in size, from 140,000 square feet to more than 350,000 square feet, tripling the existing exhibit space and adding additional archival storage, an 800-seat theater and a new educational center. Museum officials have indicated spring 2014 as the target completion date for the facility’s expansion.
Steve Turner, chairman of the museum’s Board of Officers and Trustees, announced the kickoff of the public phase of the campaign, saying, “This is an unbelievable moment in the history of this museum and in the history of Nashville. The campaign will finance a 200,000-square-foot museum expansion that will connect – structurally and financially – with the Omni Nashville convention hotel. This is [an] unprecedented public-private partnership made possible by the vision and stewardship of Mayor Karl Dean.”
Mayor Dean, in turn, noted, “Since the museum opened in 200l, it has become one of Nashville’s signature cultural assets and a key economic engine. Through a previously reported arrangement with the city, the Omni Hotel will construct an exterior shell to house an expanded museum seamlessly connected to the hotel on three levels.
“This commitment,” he continued, “is valued at over $30 million, which the museum will return to city coffers through a long-term lease agreement. With this integration into the Omni and with close proximity to the Music City Center, now more than ever, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the city of Nashville will prosper.”
Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who, along with Country Music Hall of Fame member Kris Kristofferson, serves as honorary co-chair of the campaign, talked about his company’s entwined history with country music.
“Many of our customers today, particularly our truck owners, are fans of country music, just like my great-grandfather,” Ford said. “Country music is part of Ford’s heritage, and we are pleased to support the museum’s efforts to promote this uniquely American form of music.”
During the silent phase of the capital campaign, $56.8 million in cash and pledges were secured. More than $48 million of the total comes from donors who have contributed $1 million or more, including a lead gift of $6.5 million from Steve and Judy Turner. Other donors of $1 million or more who were publicly announced at the ceremony included the Frist Foundation, the Ingram Charitable Fund Inc. and the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation.
In addition to Working on a Building honorary co-chairs Ford and Kristofferson, the capital campaign committee includes Earl Bentz, Mark Bloom, Bill Denny, Mike Dungan, Rod Essig, Vince Gill, Randy Goodman, Keel Hunt, Ken Levitan, Brian O’Connell, Ken Roberts, John Seigenthaler, Steve Turner, Ernie Williams and Jody Williams.
This morning’s ceremony was aptly kicked off with Ricky Skaggs’ performance of “I’m Working on a Building.” Following Ford’s remarks, fiddler Buddy Spicher performed “Soldier’s Joy.” The ceremony concluded with a performance from superstar Alan Jackson, who sang “You’ve Been Lonesome, Too,” a song partially written by Hank Williams and completed by Jackson, which is featured on the forthcoming CD, The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams (Oct. 4, Egyptian Records/CMF Records/Columbia Records); Jackson also performed “Chattahoochee.”
For more information about the campaign, or to make a donation, please visit www.workingonabuilding.org. For more about the museum, please call 615-416-2001 or access www.countrymusichalloffame.org.