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First look: National Museum of African American Music unveils collection | Tennessean Construction is well underway on the Downtown Nashville complex that will eventually house the National Museum of African American Music, scheduled to open in 2019.

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And away from the bulldozers, that museum’s curatorial team has also been busy building an impressive collection of artifacts.

On Tuesday, the museum gave The Tennessean the first look at its collection, from a leopard-print dress once worn by Whitney Houston to Nat King Cole’s argyle sweater.

They stood alongside outfits belonging to everyone from Sammy Davis, Jr. to film legend Dorothy Dandridge and late singer/rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.

Curatorial director Dr. Dina Bennett said the museum has built their collections via direct donations from the artists, family members and collectors, as well as auction purchases.

They’ve been also able to connect directly with many artists via the museum’s annual events and concerts in Nashville. At last week’s “Black Music Honors” show, Bennett said an artist told them, “Thank you for giving us a home.”


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