NEW YORK—The two-story Universal Hip-Hop Museum (UHHM) in New York City isn’t scheduled to open until 2024, but organizers are already generating hype for the new space.
Called the [R]Evolution of Hip Hop, a temporary exhibit recently opened up at the Bronx Terminal Market—across the street from the museum’s location—offering visitors a sneak peek. The museum will be adjacent to the Bronx Point development, a mixed-use complex that overlooks Mill Pond Park and the Harlem River, located in the borough that’s the birthplace of the music genre.
The 2,400-square-foot pop-up exhibit, which was designed, fabricated, and built by Brooklyn-based fabrication and creative technology studio Collab, showcases the years 1986 through 1990—considered the golden era of hip-hop. It features artifacts such as concert posters, plaques, all-access passes, original cassette tapes, and outfits, as well as a giant interactive boombox that’s modeled after the JVC RC-M90—an ‘80s classic.
Upon entering, visitors travel through a 24-foot-long tunnel with a light show that’s sequenced to a mix of beats from the period. This leads into a virtual graffiti experience that mimics graffiti writing, plus displays featuring rarely seen artifacts and memorabilia as well as a live DJ on-site spinning tunes.
Collab co-founder Adina Levin explained that the studio was instructed “to infuse the exhibit with touches of technology to help tell the story of the early years of hip-hop,” as well as to “be mindful of how the experiences we created could inform and be expanded on for the larger museum.”
She added that the team worked closely with the museum's curators, Pete Nice and Paradise Gray, “to layer artifacts and memorabilia with interactive pieces to create a living documentary that would take visitors on a journey back to the golden era.”
The exhibit, which will be open through July 2023—followed by an exhibit celebrating hip-hop from 1990-1995—will have a permanent home in the museum “since its elements are the foundations that all hip-hop as we know it today are built upon,” Levin explained.
The UHHM is the brainchild of former record executive and Bronx native Rocky Bucano. It’s slated to include galleries, a theater, interactive exhibits, and artifacts such as Snoop Dogg’s bicycle from the MTV sketch show Doggy Fizzle Televizzle. Plus, through a partnership with Microsoft and MIT, the museum is creating a metaverse experience that will be designed and produced by Carnevale, which will feature a subway that serves as a gateway to teleport guests into different areas of the museum's exhibits. The New York City Mayor’s office and the Department of Cultural Affairs also recently announced $5.5 million in additional funding for the institution.
“The main museum is going to be 55,000 square feet. For us, the challenge was how to infuse a 2,400-square-foot space with the meaning, craftsmanship, and imagination that would not only do hip-hop justice, but leave people wanting to know what’s in store next,” Levin said.
See more from inside the [R]Evolution of Hip Hop exhibit...