The National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame Museum is soon to undergo an complete makeover, including a relocation and a name change.
Originally founded in 1998 as a museum for the public display of original four-string tenor banjos from the jazz era, the museum will soon expand its focus to include all types of banjos.
The museum started with 60 banjos on display, making it the largest publicly displayed collection in the world. Over the last ten years the museum has acquired over 40 additional banjos bringing it’s total number to over 100. Recently, the museum came into possession of more than 200 banjos from the private collection of a German businessman. The organization is in ongoing negotiations to to acquire the collection of Akira Tsumura in Japan. His collection consists of nearly 600 instruments, and is considered to be the largest collection ever assembled.
With all these new acquisitions to the collection, the museum was quickly running out of space in it’s current location in Guthrie, OK. Last year, the decision was made to move the museum to a new home in Oklahoma City. The real estate deal for the new building was just closed late last month and renovation is scheduled to begin this spring. The new location is the heart of Oklahoma City’s “Bricktown” district.
The 21,000 square foot historical building will be renovated for roughly two million dollars. The renovation is expected to be complete, and the museum moved in early 2009. At that time the name change to American Banjo Museum will be official.
When the relocation takes place, the Museum’s new name, American Banjo Museum, will better reflect the its desire to tell the entire story of the banjo’s colorful 350 year evolution in America, opposed to its previous exclusive focus on the instruments, artists and music associated with the relatively brief period known as the jazz age.
The renovated facility will include the original exerior features of the building, while the interior will be completed remodeled to include a state-of-the-art museum facility and more.
…the interior [will be] completely restructured into a state-of-the-art museum facility. In addition to instrument displays, preliminary interior plans call for an extensive interactive banjo history exhibit, a 60 seat performance theater, a replica of a vintage Shakey’s Pizza Parlor along with classrooms, offices, workshops, snack bar, catering kitchen, archives, storage, and gift shop.
Be sure to visit the museum online banjomuseum.org and prepare to spend some time reading their extensive historical notes on banjos, instrument manufactures, and musicians.