A “daring dream”: the birth of the Universal Hip-Hop Museum in New York


New York City — more importantly, the Bronx — is getting its first hip-hop museum.

Scheduled to open in 2024, the two-story Universal Hip-Hop Museum will be located on East 150th Street, attached to the Bronx Point development in the borough legendary as the birthplace of hip-hop. The aim of the museum is to highlight the five pillars of hip-hop: DJing, animation, break dancing, graffiti and knowledge.

LL Cool J and Nas
Nas, left, and LL Cool J attend the Universal Hip-Hop Museum groundbreaking ceremony on May 20, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York City.

Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Currently, UHHM Executive Director Rocky Bucano and his team are collecting artifacts and memorabilia from around the world. They recently received a donation of massive speakers from The Roxy club, the original sound system from Pete DJ Jones – who is Rocky’s cousin and one of the original mobile disc jockeys. The collection also includes an acrylic collage of Eminem on canvas by artist Borbay, a rare Rocawear Roc-A-Fella black leather tour jacket, a bicycle signed and used by Snoop Dogg of the MTV sketch show “Doggy Fizzle Televizzle”, and every edition of notable hip-hop magazines. And that’s not all.

This original artwork is by Borbay called “Eminem” done in acrylic and collage on canvas.

Adam Silverstein/Universal Hip-Hop Museum

Microsoft is the Universal Hip-Hop Museum’s technology partner, and Rocky Bucano and his team are also working with a group at MIT, led by D. Fox Harrell, to create a new way of imagining hip-hop history. – with its own metaverse.

The Metaverse, designed and produced by Carnevale Interactive, will debut before the brick-and-mortar museum opens and will feature a subway that serves as a walkway to teleport guests to different areas of the museum’s exhibits. The virtual world will also integrate NFT and live performance spaces.

The Universal Hip-Hop Museum will incorporate a metaverse that will transport visitors through different exhibits and allow them to be immersed in live performances.

Photo courtesy of Carnevale Interactive

“We’re building a unique type of museum experience. We’re not building the traditional old museum where you go and see a bunch of stuff on the wall and you know, it looks like old dinosaurs,” Bucano said. conservative [Adam Silverstein, the museum’s director of archives and collections] said, we are not building a mausoleum, we are building a museum. You know, a living, breathing representation of hip-hop culture. Something that is constantly changing and evolving.”

But that almost didn’t happen. Twelve years ago, the Universal Hip-Hop Museum was just a dream — a “daring dream,” Bucano said. At the time, he was working as the executive director of a nonprofit organization for a youth basketball team, the New York Gauchos, which was looking for ways to expand and transform the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a sports and entertainment complex. Although the plans fell through, it opened the door to another idea for the community: a hip-hop museum.

“At first it was like a, you know, a slow locomotive. No one was excited. No one wanted to get involved. And then slowly but surely, as I kept pushing the dream in front of people, more more people got interested,” he said.

And that’s exactly what happened: hip-hop legends Kurtis Blow, LL Cool J, Nas and Fat Joe joined in on the dream. Soon Michael Ford (aka Hip-Hop Architect) also joined the team, helping to put together the architectural designs of what the museum would look like. Finally, the dream was more like a reality.

WORD UP! Magazine Issue 1, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1987, one of the premier hip-hop magazines that should be displayed in the universal brick-and-mortar hip-hop museum.

Adam Silverstein/Universal Hip-Hop Museum

“Everyone was like, ‘I get it now, I see it.’ You know, they say seeing is believing, and even though the dream was only on paper, people started to see that, OK, we have a game plan now, we have an architect, we have a vision,” Bucano said.

With help from Microsoft, they were able to do a tour to gather feedback from other places that contributed to the genre, like California, Atlanta, and Detroit, to see if the idea of ​​a hip-hop museum was right. feasible. Then they had to find him a home – a long and complicated process.

The opportunity finally presented itself with the help of Josue Sanchez, Senior Director of L&M Development Partners and current development partner of Bronx Point. The mixed-use complex will include affordable housing, a public park, community and retail spaces, as well as the museum.

The Universal Hip-Hop Museum, which began construction in 2021, is set to open in 2024 as part of the Bronx Point development in New York.

Photo courtesy S9 Architects

In addition to preserving the legacy of hip-hop culture, the museum also plans to create educational and mentorship programs to help develop the next generation of hip-hop icons and entrepreneurs. For Women’s History Month, they launched “The Fresh, Bold and So Def” women’s initiative, led by the Hip-Hop Education Center, which will address issues such as misogyny and racism while honoring and reinforcing the contributions and achievements of women in hip-hop. .

Although the Universal Hip-Hop Museum won’t open until 2024, it has a temporary location at nearby Bronx Terminal Market that will feature the “Revolution of Hip-Hop” exhibit, celebrating the genre’s golden age. 1986 to 1990, which is due to open in April. For more information, visit uhhm.org.

Promo UHHM 2024 by
Opening of the Universal Museum of Hip-Hop 2024 on Youtube


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