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The Universal Hip Hop Museum Is Finally On Its Way to the Bronx. Where Else?

By Sara Lieberman

12.24.19

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When it opens in 2023, the Universal Hip Hop Museum hopes to be yet another draw to the storied borough of the Bronx.

Courtesy of the Univeral Hip Hop Museum

When it opens in 2023, the Universal Hip Hop Museum hopes to be yet another draw to the storied borough of the Bronx.

A new museum dedicated to the genre's music, history and culture is breaking ground in New York City's Bronx borough, the birthplace of hip-hop.

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The Universal Hip Hop Museum breaks ground this month in the birthplace of hip-hop, New York's Boogie Down Bronx.  Touted as the first musum in the world dedicated the genre's music and culture, it's coming to life with the help of some industry icons: Chuck D of Public Enemy is Chairman of the Celebrity Board, Ice-T is on the board of directors, and other ambassadors include Fab Five Freddie, Q Tip, Rakim, Nas, and graffiti artists Tats Cru.

“The museum will be a solid base of recognition of the past,” Chuck D told Billboard. “But it will also be involved in hip-hop’s [ongoing] definition, protecting it and making it viable for the future.”

Fans can get a taste for what to expect from the $80 million project, which just received a $3.7 million grant from New York State, at a preview installation in the Bronx Terminal Market, not far from where the 50,000-square-foot museum is being constructed. Timed-entry tickets are required, but free.

The museum has also been using social platforms and multi-media efforts to build excitement and inspire donors—posting trivia, historical milestones, and news of special events (including a New Year’s Eve fund-raiser) on its Instagram, and organizers even released a compilation album featuring iconic and up-and-coming hip-hop artists. 

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When the full museum eventually opens, visitors will be immersed in a multi-floor experience spanning the genre’s influence from the east coast to the west coast and organized into hip-hop’s five key themes: DJ’ing, emceeing, breakdancing, visual arts, and knowledge. In addition, exhibits will include portraits, an extensive collection of classic magazine titles such as The Source and VIBE, and a host of Snoop Dogg paraphernalia. (No, not that kind. Think custom low-riders and action figures.) The UHHM also worked with Microsoft and MIT to develop a technology-forward feature called “Breakbeat Narratives,” where a visitor’s personal music preferences—be it country, jazz, rock or pop—are translated into a unique hip-hop playlist.

“The Breakbeat Narratives show the interrelationship between individuals relating to hop-hip even if they don’t even know,” UHHM board member Ed Young told the Bronx Times. “It shows there is a reason we as people can communicate and get along.”

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