The Mississippi Delta has influenced popular music and culture with its unique American musical art form known as the Blues. And since its creation a quarter of a century ago, the Delta Blues Museum has strived to preserve, interpret, and encourage a deep interest in the story of the musical style known as the Blues and those who shape, play and preserve it. A public and private funded institution, the museum enriches the lives and broadens the perspectives of its local, national, and international visitors.

The Mission

The Delta Blues Museum is dedicated to creating a welcoming place where visitors find meaning, value and perspective by exploring the history and heritage of this unique American musical art form known as the Blues.

Established in 1979 by the Carnegie Public Library Board of Trustees, and made a stand-alone museum in 1999, the Delta Blues Museum is the state’s oldest music museum. A five-member board appointed by the Mayor and Board of Commissioners of Clarksdale governs the museum. Funded annually by the City of Clarksdale, its gift shop revenue, granting agencies, and donations, the museum uses public and private funds to carry out its mission.

The Vision

As a public educational institution the museum’s vision is to:

  • Encourage a deep interest in the story of the musical style known as the Blues and those who shape, play and preserve it.

  • Establish a clear and a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between the Blues and other forms of American music.

  • Provide relevant, creative educational programs, performances, exhibits and visitor experiences.

  • Create a museum environment where ideas are shared with objectivity and respect for our diverse audiences.

The Value

The Delta Blues Museum values:

  • The preservation of our music community’s unique cultural resources.

  • Spirit of cooperation, trust and open communications between ourselves, our visitors and those who continue to preserve the Blues traditions.

  • The highest professional standards and institutional integrity in all organizational endeavors.

Goals

I. Museum Goals

The goal of the Delta Blues Museum is to create a working partnership between the museum and local schools and businesses to support, through planning, programs and teacher education, an integration of education about Blues music at all grade levels in the classroom curriculum. While this goal is a stand-alone issue, we continue to reinforce this service through all of our endeavors.

The Delta Blues Museum hopes to expand upon our partnership with local schools: George Oliver Elementary, Higgins Middle School, and Coahoma Community College. We will continue to display student art and promote upcoming performances.

II. Board Involvement

Board support and involvement is essential to the future success of the Delta Blues Museum. In keeping with this goal, the board has committed itself to advancing the museum and establishing the institution as a recognized professional entity in the community.

We will strive to:

  • Offer in-house board training throughout the year.

  • Utilize our national advisory committee.

  • Attend professional museum meetings and workshops at the state, regional, and national levels. (i.e. Mississippi Museum Association, Southeastern Museums Conference, American Association of Museums, Music Museum Alliance, Mississippi Center for Non-Profits)

  • Educate the Delta Blues Foundation Board.

  • Provide financial support through annual giving, solicitation of corporate support, and partnerships. (ongoing)

III. Clarksdale Community

Use the Blues to support the development of the Clarksdale community. Music is a non-threatening way to address social issues by bringing people of different backgrounds together. More socialization among different groups leads to a better understanding of each other and ultimately, a better quality of life.

The Delta Blues Museum Arts and Education Program is a prime example. The class currently has approximately sixty-five students who come from different schools, age groups, and ethnic and economic backgrounds. Some of these groups would ordinarily experience very limited interaction.

We will strive to:

  • Expand our arts and education program through community partnerships including symposiums and concerts of Blues and related music to include: Juke Joint Festival, Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, Tennessee Williams Festival, King Biscuit Blues Festival, Coahoma Community College Homecoming and Special Events, and the Clarksdale Holiday Parade.

  • Recruit non-arts community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Levee Board, and Delta Regional Authority for Blues based projects.

  • Create partnerships with community nonprofits including the local chapter of the NAACP.

  • Create committees to assist and advise the staff and board on various aspects of the museum's operations.

  • Create new and build upon existing partnerships with regional arts museums such as: Delta Cultural Center, Highway 61 Blues Museum, the Museum of the Mississippi Delta, and B.B. King Museum.

IV. Publications

Update our publications and Web site to promote Blues music and culture

We will strive to:

  • Continue distribution of a newsletter to members putting out at least four issues annually. Add to our nearly 10,000 subscribers.

  • Improve and make more user-friendly the current Website, including linking to other music related institutions (i.e. Experience Music Project, Seattle, WA; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, OH; International Bluegrass Music Museum, Owensboro, KY; Jazz Hall of Fame, Kansas City, MO).

  • Develop an exhibits guide to the new permanent exhibits.

  • Expand our efforts as a research facility to scholars interested in Blues music and culture.

  • Further our educational outreach to Blues fans and scholars via existing website features (Explore and Learn), and create new features such as: enhanced online lesson plans, multi-media tutorials, and even the possibility of an entirely independent online class.

  • Create live Podcasts of our DBM Band performances.

  • Utilize the multitude of constantly emerging social media platforms. Link with more than our current 3,000 followers via Facebook, and begin to explore the possibilities provided by Twitter and other services.

  • Use the social media platforms to link with other like-minded museums and programs.

V. Education

Strengthen education in and about the history and culture of the Blues. Education is an essential component of the Delta Blues Museum ’s mission.

We will strive to:

  • Recruit more schools to visit the museum through presentations, a traveling trunk program, and email. (ongoing)

  • Utilize an educational packet for teachers and home schools to be used in pre and post visits to the museum.

  • Work with local schools and businesses to develop exhibits, programs, and workshops that allow educators to integrate Blues into the school curriculum. (ongoing)

  • Strengthen the museum’s partnerships with the private sector to search for ways to promote Blues education. (ongoing)

  • Increase our physical range of influence by sending the traveling trunk beyond local and regional boundaries.

  • Reach out to local educators, to include Teach for America, and strive to be a part of their classroom activities and out of class excursions.

  • Improve our Arts and Education Program by providing more opportunities to our students.

VI. Knowledge

Increase knowledge of and pride in the unique American art form known as the Blues. Traditionally, Blues artists have learned their skills from within their community. The Delta Blues Museum’s Arts and Education program is devoted to keeping this tradition alive.

Although many local artists have brought Mississippi and Clarksdale national and international attention, the artists and their music is not always appreciated within Clarksdale and the State of Mississippi. The Delta Blues Museum seeks to broaden awareness and support of the Blues and the artists through public education with exhibits, performances, and programming.

We will strive to:

  • Encourage local support of the Blues - publicly document, interpret, honor and celebrate Blues artists and their music.

  • Provide opportunities for Blues artists to present and perform their art.

  • Increase the number of students in our Arts and Education Program.

VII. Sustain the Museum’s Effectiveness

The museum must be effectively managed in order to carry out the strategic plan. In addition to the dedicated tax millage, the museum will seek additional funding from state and federal agencies, foundations and fundraising efforts.

We will strive to:

  • Disseminate information about the museum’s activities and programs via its Website, brochures and newsletters.

  • Enable staff to participate in one professional development program annually.

  • Maintain membership in state, national and regional museum organizations.

  • Administer and monitor implementation of the strategic plan and report on progress to the DBM Board of Trustees.

  • Continually evaluate the effectiveness of the Delta Blues Museum ’s programs and exhibits.

  • Create a national advisory board made up of artists, scholars, and representatives from the music industry.

The Delta Blues Foundation is a qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. All funds solicited through the Delta Blues Foundation are raised on behalf of benefiting the Delta Blues Museum. On-line tax deductible contributions to the Delta Blues Foundation include the Deeper Roots program and the General Fund (a monetarily unrestricted contribution made to the foundation in support of the museum). Memberships and the Buy a Brick program are funded directly to the Delta Blues Museum and are not considered tax deductible.

VIII. Professional Standards

The Museum will professionally document its holdings including future acquisitions. We will develop new in-house exhibits and traveling exhibits. We will engage professionally prepared traveling exhibits that will provide fresh educational experiences for our audiences.

To ensure freshness in the museum, we have engaged a nationally recognized museum-planning firm to assist in the conceptualization and implementation of new interpretive exhibits.

We are currently establishing criteria for our future staffing, exhibitions, and collections management.

We will strive to:

  • Expand our collection holdings.

  • Become accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM).

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Last revised on August 14 2012, Copyright © 1999 - 2012 DeltabluesMuseum.org, All rights reserved.