The Bronx is moving one step closer to becoming the home of the Universal Hip Hop Museum.
Plans are to break ground for the museum at its secured location along the Harlem River at 65 E. 149th St., just south of Yankee Stadium, in winter 2019, a city official confirms.
For a new space to celebrate the city’s musical history, Kurtis Blow has teamed up with Ice-T, LL Cool J and others to create the UHHM. Blow, the first solo rapper to be signed to a major label, in 1979, says the museum is on track to enrich the borough starting in 2023.
Blow, museum co-chairman, originally had his eyes set on a 2022 debut, but the museum’s opening in the borough where hip hop was born has reportedly been set back one year. The hip-hop pioneer appeared on Pix 11 Tuesday, alongside museum director Rocky Bucano, to announce the new projected opening date, in line with the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip hop.
The UHHM’s construction plans were approved by the City Council in October 2017.
The museum, nearly six years in the making, is expected to take up the first two floors (about 50,000 square feet) of Bronx Point, a mixed-use, mixed-income housing development.
The new building is being developed by Bronx Point Owner LLC, a partnership between real estate developers Type A Projects and L+M Development Partners, which were awarded the site as part of a proposal process led by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with the Departments of Housing Preservation and Development and Parks and Recreation.
“We are thrilled to provide a home for the hip hop museum as part of the Bronx Point mixed-use development," an EDC spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "The museum will pay homage to the South Bronx’s rich culture and history as the birthplace of hip hop. We’re excited to continue working with agency partners, project associates and community stakeholders to bring it to life.”
The museum will provide what Blow called an immersive experience in ’70s music history.
“I’m big on technology, so of course we will have all of the artifacts and pictures, but the hands-on is what I’m really keen on as a priority,” Blow, 59, told amNewYork last year.
Expected hands-on experiences include a DJ booth where fans can create and spin their own records, a recording studio, a graffiti station that connects iPad drawings to an exterior building projector and a virtual reality theater. It will "put you in the center of the show," according to a UHHM tweet. "Imagine being on stage with @llcoolj performing Rock the Bells!"
“We’re also talking about doing a mobile hip-hop museum, a big truck that’s going to have a space where people can walk in and actually take a look at artifacts,” Blow added. “It’ll be a mini-museum that we can pull out as we travel the country.”
Initially, Blow stated that the museum needed to raise a total of $60 million to complete the project. Information about the financial backers was not disclosed. Bucano and a team of 30 board members are still accepting public donations via Spotfund.com and on the museum’s website.
According to Spotfund.com, just over $9,000 has been raised by more than 200 public donors.