The Main Hall
Prince had envisioned allowing the public to tour the facility. The family has done a rather good job fulfilling his intent, with the coordination of the firm that operates Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson confirmed in an interview with Al Roker that Prince planned much of what the museum looks like. The main hall is a two-story open space capped by four pyramid skylights. The marble floor is decorated with a large Prince symbol. Two white doves in cages perch on the balcony overlooking the hall. A scale model of Paisley Park and an urn with Prince’s ashes sit on a pedestal in the center of the hall. This announcement was such a shock to all of us that we could barely process the fact. I had mixed feelings about displaying the urn in that particular setting, but it was under the pyramid skylights so perhaps an appropriate spot. Future visitors, though, be prepared.
Several rooms adjoin the hall, including Prince’s office, furnished and decorated in the fanciful, colorful style from around 1990. Some of the other rooms capture particular albums, such as Sign o’ the Times and Lovesexy. One of the corridors leading from the hall shows key photos in two-year intervals. As the museum develops in the future, I hope they consider expanding these concepts further to show a historical progression of Prince’s visual and musical style.
Studios A and B
The VIP tour provided access to the video editing suite and two recording studios. Studio A comprises a large, beautifully crafted space with state-of-the-art mixing consoles, slender wooden baffles along the walls, and individual recording booths. Many artists have recorded music here. In Studio B, the smaller of the two, Prince recorded much of his work starting with “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker.” His purple piano and a blue guitar sit in one corner, where we posed for photos. Staff encouraged people to play ping pong, as Prince liked to do. If you were so inclined, you could use a purple ball.
A candle-lit, black light room painted with glowing planets, stars and rocket ships–the Galaxy Lounge–adjoins Studio B. Look for the tiny, purple Prince symbol subtly painted on the wall. In the corridor separating the two studios, Prince commissioned his lovely “Influences” mural. His image divides the panel, with his influences on the right (such as Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and Joni Mitchell) and those he mentored and worked with on the left (such as Morris Day, Sheila E., and Wendy and Lisa).
Purple Rain, Other Films, and Sound Stage
The tour continued through a room awash in swirling purple light and dedicated to “Purple Rain.” The motorcycle from the movie and purple suit with ruffled shirt are on display. The next room is artfully divided between the classic black-and-white imagery of “Under the Cherry Moon” and the colorful “Graffiti Bridge.”
Finally, we passed through a reception area with a futuristic piano that Prince commissioned into the sound stage. Concert footage played on a large screen, and five stages displayed instruments from different touring periods: Third Eye Girl, Emancipation, the Gold Experience, the Revolution, and Piano and a Mic. His new purple and gold guitar is also on display. Simon Farmer crafted the guitar nine years ago out of cedar, carbon fiber, and gold plating, but Prince acquired it only this year. Next to the sound stage, a lounge provides space where fans would wait before one of Prince’s periodic performance parties.
Some people feel it is too soon to open Paisley Park to the public. I don’t know what an appropriate length of time would be. The museum provides an opportunity to honor the legacy of one of the most talented musicians of the last 100 years. By any standard, Prince was unique, really without equal. No other musician in generations has combined the showmanship, the musical talent, the vocal finesse, the creativity, the impact on popular culture, and the facility with every style from rock to pop to blues to jazz. Paisley Park is similarly unique, a testament to Prince’s vision. I feel grateful to have had this experience.
While Paisley Park was the highlight of my Minneapolis visit, we also experienced other things touched by Prince: murals, art, fashion, cocktails, locations. Watch the slide show to see what we encountered.