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.
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.
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.
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 integrateand live performance spaces.
“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.
“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.
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.