Blue Ridge Music Center
Established by the U.S. Congress in 1985, the Blue Ridge Music Center celebrates the music and musicians of the Blue Ridge. In this region, which extends from Pennsylvania to Georgia, one finds many variations of historic fiddle and banjo music, including string bands, ballads, gospel, blues, and bluegrass. This musical tradition can be traced to the meeting of the African banjo and the European fiddle in the years before the U.S. was created.
RAA was asked to design the Roots of American Music permanent exhibition for the Center’s Museum. This 2,300-square-foot exhibition traces the story of America’s first music. Extending from its origins in Africa and Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries to the present day, the experience brings to life the region’s history and the influence of its music around the world. It also tells the stories of music-making families who still thrive in the area. Designed to engage visitors of all ages, the exhibition displays a unique selection of musical instruments and regional objects. Local family stories and historic overviews, videos and hands-on interactives come alive with selections of homegrown music.
Visitors can try their hand at crafting song lyrics and mix their own versions of mountain music. Personal stories of how traditional music has influenced generations of Blue Ridge families are complemented by oral history audio programs of those who collected the music of the mountains in the past.
The Center is operated through a partnership between the National Park Service and the National Council for the Traditional Arts. It includes an outdoor amphitheater, which hosts a summer concert series and is a destination for tourists traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Size 2,300 square feet
AwardsCreativity International Award: Silver, Environmental Graphics