A little slice of Memphis can be found in the heart of Germany starting this week, as the Gibson Guitar Showroom in Berlin opens a new multimedia exhibit focusing on the musical and cultural history of the Bluff City.
"Memphis Exhibition Berlin" is a 5,000-square-foot exhibit that combines various artifacts — including photos, documents, films and items of memorabilia — to tell the story of "Beale Street, Sun Records, Stax Records, and Memphis' pivotal role in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s."
A group of eleven students from Memphis' Stax Music Academy arrived in Berlin on Wednesday to inaugurate the exhibit with a series of live performances. A private reception and news conference will take place Friday evening in Berlin, with the United States ambassador to Germany, Phillip D. Murphy, scheduled to speak at the event. The public opening of the exhibit is Saturday.
"The exhibit is really amazing," said Stax Museum communications director Tim Sampson, who is traveling with the Music Academy students in Germany. "You walk into the exhibit and part of it is a recreation of Beale Street; then there's a collection of Ernest Withers photos, and displays on Stax, Sun and the civil rights movement. It's really impressive what they've done here."
Organized by German curators Clemens Gubernath and Jacqueline Mende, the exhibit is in being staged in conjunction with Gibson, FedEx, the United States Embassy in Berlin, Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Ernest Withers Collection. "American culture has been very prominent in Germany since the 1950s and we just want European visitors to experience this and learn what a unique city Memphis is," said Gubernath, in a statement.
"Memphis Exhibition Berlin" will be on display through Oct. 5.