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Douglas Adams once wrote an environmental travelogue called Last Chance to See in which he encouraged his readers to take the time to partake of our endangered environment before it was all gone. My mother, brother, and I took him up on his advice this Memorial Day weekend. Only we didn't go look at any stupid animals; we visited the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame was established in Macon, Georgia -- the geographical center of the state and former home of Gregg Allman, Little Richard, and Otis Redding -- in 1996. After years of non-existent crowds and state budget cuts, the museum's doors will be permanently shuttered on June 12 and the exhibits moved to storage in Athens -- spawning ground of the B-52s, R.E.M., and Widespread Panic. We had never been, so mom decided that it was now or never.
The design of the Hall of Fame exhibits is somewhere between audacious and boneheaded. The main exhibit hall is meant to evoke the look of a small town with homes and businesses dedicated to particular genres. However, the individual exhibits lack any noticeable panache or gravitas. It's a lot like looking at a city-wide yard-sale with fancy signs. Or it would be, if there were any people around.
Like the small Georgia town it emulates, it's pretty clear that the museum is a pale reflection of better times. Identifying numbers had fallen off some exhibits. Whole rooms were empty of anything of historical value. In the "Music Factory" children's wing, used flip-flop soles stood in for pipe-organ valves, and the buttons meant to play the sounds of various musical instruments only played the Windows 95 error chord. Sadly, Windows 95 was one of the few things I saw that obviously belonged in a museum!
When the doors are locked for the last time, I'm sure the museum will be missed by more than just its 2 full-time and 6 part-time employees. It's not without its charm or educational value, but it is hard to imagine anyone going out of their way to Macon to see the place. After all, it isn't like it has ever been featured on Oprah.
I'm glad we went, but I won't be spedning any time mourning its passing. That's just another dirge we can do without.