Motown Museum, home to the iconic Hitsville U.S.A. recording studio, is getting a major update.
records at motown museum
Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki

You may have heard it through the grapevine, and it's true: Detroit's Motown Museum is growing. During the golden era of Motown, the Hitsville U.S.A. studio (where the museum is now housed) cranked out legendary songs in the Motor City. In the 1960s and 1970s, residential homes were repurposed as studios, offices and other music facilities, sparking a creative fever. And now the area is about to see another boom with the museum's multimillion-dollar expansion, which will create a 50,000-square-foot campus. Motown Museum opened in 1985 to preserve Motown Records' history through memorabilia and artifacts in the original buildings.

Tours at the popular attraction have been paused since last July to expedite the long-anticipated transformation. Robin Terry, Motown Museum CEO and chairwoman, says $32 million of the $55 million needed has been raised, and tours will resume this summer.The project will launch in four phases.

hitsville usa michigan historic site
vintage photo of people on hitsville usa lawn
Left: Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki
Right: Credit: Courtesy of Motown Museum

The first will be Hitsville Next, which will develop future talent through programming, camps, workshops, master classes and community events. The second, a plaza outside of Hitsville U.S.A., will recultivate the sense of community Motown was known for. Benches will provide seating to enjoy live concerts or listen to Motown hits played from a surround-sound system. "It will be a place where residents and tourists can come to bask in Motown music," Terry says. She hopes to bridge the gap between Motown's history and younger generations by providing a space to "be entertained through pop-up performances and connect with other Motown fans on the very grounds where the Motown sound was born and music history was made." As the Four Tops might say (er, sing), "We'll be there."

Top Hits

Here are a few of the artifacts and spaces at Motown Museum.

Artist Memorabilia

In addition to photos and records, you'll also find legendary costumes and concert memorabilia, like Michael Jackson's black fedora and silver sequined glove, and a black 1877 Steinway grand piano frequently played by Stevie Wonder.

Studio A

In this main studio, Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, recorded chart-topping hits from The Jackson 5, Diana Ross and The Temptations. See original microphones, pianos, soundboards and other music gear.

Berry Gordy's Apartment

Tours of Hitsville U.S.A. include a peek at the upstairs apartment where Berry Gordy and legendary musicians could crash after late-night sessions.