- Associated Press - Sunday, December 27, 2015

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) - Plans for the exterior design of the International Bluegrass Music Center in Kentucky are set and design of the interior exhibits and visitor experience is under way. Now planners are looking for the right formula to ensure the future attraction’s sustained success in Owensboro.

Chris Joslin, executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum of Owensboro, tells the Messenger-Inquirer (https://bit.ly/1OROWeI ) that planners are trying to create a visitor experience so compelling that people will keep coming back.

“We’re trying to create an experience,” Joslin said. “Success in that regard is not just numbers. The tell-tale sign will be people returning two, three or four times. As much as anything, we want it to be dynamic, something new all the time and reasons to come back.”

The museum is partnering with the city of Owensboro to build the $15.4 million center.

The newspaper reports that the awarding of a construction contract for the center and a groundbreaking ceremony are both imminent, based on what city officials have said recently. No firm dates have been announced.



HealyKohler Design of Washington, D.C., was selected to design the interior exhibits.

Museum officials are participating in the interior design, Joslin said.

“I certainly like the direction it is taking,” Joslin said. “Not only are we telling the story of bluegrass, we’re trying to integrate technology and also be dynamic.”

Terry Woodward, a bluegrass museum board member and central figure in the bluegrass center project, said a bluegrass timeline is being integrated into the layout of the exhibits.

Woodward said the museum has hundreds of hours of bluegrass video and is seeking help from the University of Kentucky to edit them into a usable state for the center. For the last nine years, the museum has conducted and recorded interviews with about 160 bluegrass performers, some now deceased.

Joslin said even the most faithful bluegrass fan will not be able to absorb everything the center will have to offer in one visit.

“It will not be a situation of come once and be done,” he said. “They will want to come back.”

Woodward was not ready to release the name of the restaurant that will reside on the third floor of the bluegrass center, with an outside entrance. He said a proposal has been sent to a restaurant company.

“The key is programming and events,” Woodward said. “Certainly, more people coming in the door drives everything, the gift shop and the concert venue.”

The venue is a 500-seat auditorium/concert hall designed for regular live musical performances.

“With that theater, we can have all sorts of events,” Woodward said. “Corporate events can dovetail with the convention center. We can have a webcast. There are lots of possibilities. Hopefully, with 500 seats, we will have 500 people every Saturday night.”

Those regular Saturday night shows will be designed to focus solely on bluegrass music, with a couple of headliners and other performers at each show, Woodward said. On other nights, other genres of music may fill the theater, but on Saturday nights, bluegrass will be the staple, he said.

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Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, https://www.messenger-inquirer.com

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