DETROIT (Aug. 8, 2022) — Two phases of the highly anticipated Motown Museum expansion are now complete and a star-studded celebration was held Monday, Aug. 8, boosted by attendance from distinguished Motown alumni, donors and honorable dignitaries. The celebratory event marked the grand opening of Hitsville NEXT, the new educational programming and creative hub, and the newly established Rocket Plaza, thanks to a $5 million contribution from Rocket Companies and the Gilbert Family Foundation.
“The vision for this ambitious project that was first announced in 2016—and that so many generous and committed supporters have contributed to—is now a reality,” said Motown Museum Chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry. “Not only are we back—but we are back, bigger and better than ever.”
Highlighted by energetic musical and spoken word performances, Terry was joined Monday for the grand opening of Hitsville NEXT and the Rocket Plaza by Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, as well as Matt Rizik of Rocket Companies.
“Rocket Companies and the Gilbert Family Foundation are dedicated to making philanthropic investments that build a strong social and economic foundation for all Detroiters,” said Rizik, Chief Tax Officer at Rock Holdings. “The history of Motown is inextricably linked with the history and legacy of Detroit, and we are proud to support the expansion of the Motown Museum. This expansion will both celebrate our history and will be a strong foundation for the next generation of musicians, entrepreneurs and proud Detroiters.”
The festivities of the evening were highlighted by commentary from iconic Motown stars including Otis Williams, an original founding member of The Temptations who gifted microphones to the museum from his personal collection, and Smokey Robinson, who spoke about the importance of inspiration as an artist and why the expansion—and specifically Hitsville NEXT—is so meaningful because of the significance of inspiring emerging artists in the place where the Motown legacy was built. Fellow Motown alumni Duke Fakir, Shelly Berger and Martha Reeves were also in attendance to lend additional starpower to the celebration.
Hitsville NEXT offers a signature slate of impactful, community-focused programs, workshops and events designed to activate and inspire future generations of creatives, artists and entrepreneurs. Headquartered within three historic, Motown-era buildings at 2654-2658 W. Grand Boulevard—previously owned by Motown Records—Hitsville NEXT now features professional recording pods, community activation space and premier programming to foster emerging talent. Programs featured in the Hitsville NEXT line up include its spoken word competition Motown Mic; Amplify, a singing competition; The Lyric Project songwriting workshop; and its Ignite and Spark summer camps.
The immersive Rocket Plaza will serve as a welcome destination for museum visitors, meant to inspire joy and creative collaboration with regularly activated performances by local talent and unique opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs. Inspired by a time when young Motown acts like Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops and so many others, would hang out in front of Motown’s headquarters, the Plaza will serve as the ultimate Motown-inspired community gathering space. Museum visitors will arrive at a beautifully lit granite paver expanse, surrounded by colorful flowers, lush plantings, park benches and a pop-up performance stage surrounded by a sound system playing their favorite Motown hits. Hitsville NEXT and the Rocket Plaza were designed by Detroit-based architectural firm Hamilton Anderson & Associates. The expansion design is led by the North Carolina practice of global architecture and design firm Perkins&Will.
As the institution completes these important construction milestones, the museum is welcoming the community to its Founder’s Day celebration in honor of its late founder Esther Gordy Edwards, the reopening and the completed expansion phases, on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 12-5 p.m. Community vendors and performances from Hitsville NEXT program participants will be highlights of the day, with entertainment on the new plaza, allowing the local Detroit community to experience Motown magic together. Founder’s Day is an annual, free and open to the public celebration hosted by Motown Museum.
The museum is also welcoming visitors back for tours of Hitsville U.S.A. beginning Sunday, Aug. 14 following pandemic- and construction-related closures. The tours resuming on Aug. 14 will be a soft reopening with the museum offering abbreviated walking tours of portions of Hitsville U.S.A., including Studio A and the museum’s campus, as the museum’s singular elevator is out of service due to water damage that occurred in summer 2021. The museum is anticipating full tours will resume on Saturday, Oct. 1. Guests and groups can purchase tour tickets at motownmuseum.org.
About Motown Museum
Founded in 1985 by Esther Gordy Edwards, Motown Museum is a 501(c)(3) not for profit, tax-exempt organization in Detroit. The museum is committed to preserving, protecting and presenting the Motown story through authentic, inspirational and educational experiences. Announced in late 2016, the Motown Museum expansion will grow the museum to a 50,000-square-foot world-class entertainment and education tourist destination featuring dynamic, interactive exhibits, a performance theater, recording studios, an expanded retail experience and meeting spaces designed by renowned architects and exhibit designers. When completed, the new museum campus will have a transformative impact on the surrounding Detroit neighborhoods, providing employment, sustainability and community pride by serving as an important catalyst for new investment and tourism in the historic area. For more information on Motown Museum, visit http://www.motownmuseum.org.
About the Gilbert Family Foundation
The Gilbert Family Foundation is a private nonprofit foundation founded by Jennifer and Dan Gilbert to accelerate a cure for neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and build economic opportunity and equity in the city of Detroit. The Gilbert Family Foundation supports groundbreaking, cutting-edge research in hopes of eradicating NF1, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves anywhere in the body. Additionally, the Foundation supports the economic stability and mobility of residents in Detroit by investing in wealth-building opportunities and breaking down systemic barriers. For more information on the Gilbert Family Foundation, please visit gilbertfamilyfoundation.org.
About Rocket Companies
Founded in 1985, Rocket Companies is a Detroit-based FinTech platform company consisting of personal finance and consumer technology brands including Rocket Mortgage, Rocket Homes, Amrock, Rocket Auto, Rocket Loans, Rocket Money (formerly known as Truebill), Rocket Solar, Rocket Mortgage Canada (formerly known as Edison Financial), Lendesk, Core Digital Media, Rocket Central and Rock Connections.
Rocket Companies' mission is to be the best at creating certainty in life's most complex moments so that its clients can live their dreams. The Company helps clients achieve the dream of home ownership and financial freedom through industry-leading client experiences powered by its simple, fast and trusted digital solutions. Rocket Companies ranked #7 on Fortune's list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in 2022 and has placed in the top third of the list for 19 consecutive years. For more information, please visit our Corporate Website or Investor Relations Website.
Photos credit: Motown Museum