As a 60’s kid growing up across the river in Canada, I spent hours signing along to the
music of the Supremes, Four Tops, Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and others. My friend’s living room became our stage where we attempted (with little success) to copy the smooth moves of these soul groups. Returning many years later to Detroit, I knew that I had to make a visit to the Motown Museum.
It is designated as an official historical site for the State of Michigan and is located in the original two story house, named Hitsville U.S.A., where many of the 60s hits were recorded. The house was purchased in the late 1950s by Motown founder Berry Gordy and the main floor was converted into a recording studio while the top floor was his living quarters.
The house looks much like it did in the 60s. First impression of the outside is that it’s a bit run down but inside, much of the original recording equipment is still in place and it’s quite interesting to see the large 3 track tape machine, 8 track machine and other equipment that were used until 1972 when Motown moved its offices to California. The sound studio where the artists performed is set up with chairs, microphones and musical
instruments and it’s easy to imagine Marvin or Stevie or Diana doing their thing. The
admission price includes a guided tour of the house which gives lots of detail on the
recording process and the history of Motown. I learned that Motown became the world’s
largest independent record company and sold music all over the world.
Throughout the museum, the walls are decorated with pictures of the various artists who called the studio home as well as gold albums that they received during their career.
The small gift shop has a few souvenirs - post cards, tapes & CDs but you can find a wider selection of Motown music online. The museum is open daily but hours vary so call for the schedule. Admission is $4.00 for adults and $2.00 for children under 12. I enjoyed the museum and it brought back lots of memories but I’m not sure that kids would be impressed since the music belongs to an era before their time.