Grammy Museum Takes Charge of Music History

Article excerpt

Deep within the high-security Iron Mountain storage facility in Hollywood, where nearly every doorway except for the restroom has a security-card swipe lock, sits the Grammy Museum's permanent collection of pop-music artifacts.

Hundreds of 10-inch 78 rpm discs -- some from Thomas Edison's record label -- reside in archival boxes on 20-foot-long metal shelves, near antique radios and phonograph players, musical instruments, posters and celebrity fashion items.

Vintage synthesizers in original cases take up a shelf right below three distinctive accordions, an instrument Mark Twain famously dubbed "the stomach Steinway."

The Grammy Museum may have opened a little less than four years ago in downtown's L.A. Live entertainment complex, but it's looking at myriad new ways to store and exhibit its collection.

"People offer to donate things, but until we had someplace to properly store and preserve them, we've had to turn a lot of those offers down," executive director Robert Santelli said during a walk- through of the museum's growing archive.

"We have to be able to safely store the items, insure them -- and be sure we can make them accessible to the public at some point, because we are an educational museum," he said. "We're working without an acquisition budget, so we have to rely on donations."

Grammy Museum assistant curator Ali Stuebner slipped on a pair of white cotton gloves to peek under the lid of a 4-foot-tall 1920s- vintage Edison phonograph resting against one of the storage space's bunker-like concrete walls, and to show a visitor one of two old (but well cared for) piano accordions donated by squeeze-box virtuoso Ernie Felice. She later riffled through a couple of large boxes, each holding perhaps thousands of 5-inch by 7-inch white notecards collected from one of Yoko Ono's wishing trees, a project for which passersby were invited to complete the thought "Imagine a world . …