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Smithsonian-affiliated museum opening in Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. – After 10 years of dreaming and planning, the Birthplace of Country Music museum will open in August in downtown Bristol. A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the museum honors the 1927 Bristol Sessions recording that many claim introduced America to country music.

First conceived in 2004, the $11 million museum will rely extensively on video, audio and interaction. In an orientation theater, visitors can watch a 12-minute video about the Bristol Sessions, the region and its impact of music.

Other exhibits inside the 24,000-square-foot museum include a gallery filled historic musical instrument, interactive map country music’s origins and a small church that shows a video on the role of gospel music. Guests can sing along with Bristol Sessions songs or listen to the evolution of recordings of those songs.

“It’s not just straight up Scots-Irish fiddling or ballads that have just been preserved untainted for 200 years,” said Jessica Turner, museum director. “There is a lot of interaction with blues and other styles of music that makes this music unique and relevant and vibrant today. It’s always changing.”

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