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Sounds Good to Me exhibit logo

Music exhibit provides medley of places, people and personal preference

Minnesota melodies provide the roots of the exhibit Sounds Good To Me: Music in Minnesota at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.

microphone The exhibit will give visitors a sampling of the state's musical events, personalities and activities through the years, and explore the ways in which Minnesotans make music a part of their lives.

Like food, music is a matter of taste – from polka to piano, symphony to salsa, hip-hop to hard rock and lounge to Latin. Making and enjoying music is an essential element of any culture, ballroom sign and in Minnesota, it might mean playing the piano at a recital, dancing at a favorite nightspot, singing in the church choir, attending a lakeside concert or even listening to a loon's call.

Comprised of a medley of scenes in which music is produced or appreciated, the exhibit is not intended to be a "hall-of-fame " of well-known Minnesota musicians nor a march-through-time of the state's musical history. Although materials, photographs, objects and sounds from famous Minnesota artists – native and transplant – are included, the exhibit offers a streetscape of venues. Here are some examples of exhibit environments:

Home parlor
Music in the home included piano lessons.

Other home music
Making music at home often meant doing it yourself.

Includes a ballroom scene and interviews with band leader and patrons.

Prom entrance
The Prom Ballroom in St. Paul provided the inspiration for the recreated ballroom.

Concert hall
Explores music as public performance in a backstage setting.

High school band room
Explores the changing nature of music education

Businesses of note
Featuring Minnesota businesses important to the development of Minnesota music and musicians.

Studio 4U
Mix your own version of "Funkytown."

Disc jockey booth
See how reaches communities across the state.

Revival tent
Explores the ways music brings communities together.

Singing out Video documentary about community-based music-making. Features nine Minnesota groups.

This exhibit marks several milestones for the Minnesota History Center and the Minnesota Historical Society. Covering 6,200 square feet of exhibit space, Sounds Good to Me is one of the largest and most media-intensive exhibits produced at the History Center.

The exhibit includes object theater, videos, interactive kiosks, operational jukeboxes, recording equipment and more.

For example, visitors can remix tracks and sing along with Minnesotan Steven Greenberg's 1980 disco hit, "Funkytown" in the "Studio 4U." This studio also tells the story of the state's recording industry.

Sounds Good to Me: Music in Minnesota demonstrates that music is not just for passive listening. Many generations of Minnesotans have enjoyed dancing, whether in nightclubs, ballrooms, soda shops or even the mosh pits of today's hot spots.

The exhibit's "On the Town" section is sure to engage such memories and inspire new ones. "This section is about the importance of music in people's social lives and how it is a part of dating, fashion and going out dancing," says exhibit curator Benjamin Filene.

The elaborate setting includes booths and cabaret-style seating, jukeboxes playing hits from the 1930s to the present, historic film footage of people dancing, and a nightclub stage. This venue also includes large cut-out figures that young visitors can enjoy dressing in fashions from the 1920s, 1950s and the 1970s.

[Sounds Good to Me introduction and sponsors]
[Minneapolis Rock and Roll e-cards]
[Night at the ballroom]
[Mix your own "Funkytown"]
[Encounter some famous Minnesota musicians]
[Return to Museums and Historic Places]