Motown Museum Receives Major Donation


The founder of Motown Records is donating millions to help fund a major expansion of the Motown Museum.

Berry Gordy Jr. will donate $4 million to the $50 million, 50,000 square foot plan to re-develop and preserve the “Hitsville, U.S.A.” museum on West Grand Boulevard. The current site features the houses that made up Motown’s original headquarters as well as historic ”Studio A” where the "Motown Sound" was created, which helped put Detroit on the music-making map.

In a release, Gordy said: “I’m excited about the future of Motown Museum and happy to support it.” He added: “Not only will the expanded museum entertain and tell the stories of talented and creative people who succeeded against all odds, but it will also inspire and create opportunity for people to explore their dreams the way I did mine. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of that.”

The museum's website says the expansion will help grow the popular world-class tourist destination with new interactive exhibits, a state-of-the art performance theater, recording studios, archival space and expanded retail and meeting spaces. Gordy’s late sister, Esther Gordy Edwards, is credited with reviving the property as a museum in 1985.

Berry Gordy’s gift comes as the label is celebrating its 60th anniversary and this contribution brings it one step closer to its fundraising goal. So far, it is the largest individual donation to the project which was announced in 2016, according to the Motown Museum.  It has attracted contributions from individuals, philanthropies and automotive companies, including Gordy’s one-time employer, The Ford Motor Company.  The label used the assembly line approach to making records.

Founded by Berry Gordy with a family loan of $800 in 1959, Motown became the sound that changed America, according to the museum. With more than 180 #1 hit songs worldwide, Motown was a hit factory—transforming young singers and musicians into superstars, including Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & The Supremes, the Four Tops, The Jackson 5,  Martha & The Vandellas, the Temptations and many more. 

Gordy sold Motown Records and its subsidiary labels (Tamla, Soul, Gordy, V.I.P. and Rare Earth Records) to MCA Records in 1988, which later became part of the Universal Music Group.


Artist renderings of the planned Motown Museum expansion:

                   Above photos courtesy of the Motown Museum


Motown's famed "Studio A":

                                 Photo by Paul McMahon/AM580