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Country Hall of Fame launches capital campaign

Thursday, July 28, 2011 – The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has launched a $75 million capital campaign that will finance the museum's 200,000-square-foot expansion, the hall of fame announced Thursday.

With the new addition, the museum will double in size, from 140,000 square feet to more than 350,000 square feet, tripling the existing exhibit space and adding additional archival storage, an 800-seat theater and a new educational center.

During the silent phase of the capital campaign, called "Working on a Building: Country Music Lives Here," $56.8 million in cash and pledges were secured. More than $48 million of the total comes from donors who have contributed $1 million or more, including a lead gift of $6.5 million from Steve and Judy Turner. Other donors of $1 million or more who were publicly announced at the ceremony included the Frist Foundation, the Ingram Charitable Fund and the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation.

Steve Turner, chairman of the museum's Board of Officers and Trustees, announced the kickoff of the public phase of the campaign this morning at a ceremony in the museum's Ford Theater. "This is an unbelievable moment in the history of this museum and in the history of Nashville," said Turner. "The campaign will finance a 200,000-square-foot museum expansion that will connect - structurally and financially - with the Omni Nashville convention hotel. This is (an) unprecedented public-private partnership made possible by the vision and stewardship of Mayor Karl Dean."

"Since the museum opened in 200l, it has become one of Nashville's signature cultural assets and a key economic engine," said Mayor Dean. "Through a previously reported arrangement with the city, the Omni Hotel will construct an exterior shell to house an expanded museum seamlessly connected to the hotel on three levels. This commitment is valued at over $30 million, which the museum will return to city coffers through a long-term lease agreement. With this integration into the Omni and with close proximity to the Music City Center, now more than ever, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the city of Nashville will prosper."

Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who, along with Country Music Hall of Fame member Kris Kristofferson, serves as honorary co-chair of the campaign, talked about his company's entwined history with country music. "Many of our customers today, particularly our truck owners, are fans of country music, just like my great-grandfather," said Ford. "Country music is part of Ford's heritage, and we are pleased to support the museum's efforts to promote this uniquely American form of music."

The new building will feature an educational center that includes a children's gallery, classroom spaces and a recording studio; additional exhibit gallery and archival storage spaces; an expanded retail site that includes Hatch Show Print. The expanded museum will be integrated into a downtown campus with the Music City Center and the Omni Hotel; the museum's six-floor addition will unite the museum and the Omni Hotel on three levels, allowing the two entities to share space and facilitate visitors' movements throughout the campus.

This morning's ceremony was kicked off with Ricky Skaggs' performance of I'm Working on a Building. Following Ford's remarks, fiddler Buddy Spicher performed Soldier's Joy. The ceremony concluded with a performance from Alan Jackson of You've Been Lonesome, Too, a song partially written by Hank Williams and completed by Jackson, and Chattahoochee.

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