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Monday, September 16, 2013

Museum Review: The Grammy Museum

A patron enjoys the "Just Ringo" exhibit at the Grammy Museum

Museum Review:
 The Grammy Museum
Downtown Los Angeles/Staples Center
Los Angeles, CA.

   My first hint was that I had to convince my companion, an actual music industry person, who had been to the Staples Center numerous times for sporting events, that the Grammy Museum was a think that existed. "No really;" I said, "The Grammy Museum is a real museum that exists near the Staples Center."
Grammy Moments: Cee Lo and Gwyneth Paltrow get down.

  These is something incredibly bold in placing your Museum in a building with a bunch of enormous chain restaurants (Wolfgang Puck's Pizza Factory! Yard House with misters and outdoor televisions at every table!) across from a Sports Arena,  as if to say, "We know this isn't a real museum, and we do not give a fuck." That is line with the philosophy of a the Grammy's themselves, which have to be the least well regarded of the four major art/commerce awards in the United States (The EGOT formulation from 30 Rock is the most useful acronym.)

  I'm not one to quibble about nomenclature and/or categories, but I do think the Grammy Museum scrapes the bottom of what can properly be called a museum and verges more towards an attraction, like a wax museum or water park. At the same time it is hard NOT for me to identify with the idea of turning popular music, popular music awards even, into a proper subject for something that calls itself a "Museum" at all.

  I want to like the Grammy Museum but any Museum that does an actual exhibit on Ringo Starr.  Well. I just don't know if you can overcome that. Also difficult to overcome is the idea of choosing to tell the story of popular music via the choices of the Grammy, which is like telling the story of 19th century painting from the perspective of the French Academics.  It's like, "OH- hey here is the time we gave best metal album to Jethro Tull instead of Metallica; OH- look- hey here is the time we gave Steely Dan album of the year... in 2001!  2001 can you believe that? Wow."

 From my perceptive as a bit player on the fringes of the music business, the story of the Grammy's is a series of extremely ill advised, inexplicable decisions reflecting the continuing out-of-touchness of the voters, and then Arcade Fire winning Best New Album two years ago.  The Grammy Museum does nothing to rectify that view, in fact, it confirms it.  I spent at least five minutes staring at a photograph that The Grammy Museum had of Cee-Lo, dressed like Big Bird, singing a duet with Gwyneth Paltrow.  She named her child Moses.


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