A new museum honoring the area’s expansive live stage entertainment history is opening this weekend in Branson.
The Song of Hope Museum will welcome its first guests inside this Thursday, May 6, at 1 p.m. Featuring the world’s largest collection of brochures and rack cards from Branson’s live shows and attractions, the Song of Hope Museum exhibits include pieces of live show history and various artifacts. Some of the items on display include signs, instruments, advertising materials and memorabilia from the stars of Branson.
This museum is the latest endeavor of the non-profit Song of Hope Historical Society, whose mission is to preserve the history of Branson’s Live Music Show industry while assisting its advancement into the future. The organization was founded by Branson Ward I Alderman Marshall Howden, who is also the grandson of country music legend and Branson pioneer Mel Tillis.
“This museum is one of my lifelong dreams come true,” Howden said. “I love growing up on stage as part of Branson’s live music show industry. I want to do whatever I can to preserve the live music shows’ past and advance its future.”
The museum will additionally host special events, exhibits and meet & greets throughout the year. For the grand opening, the first special event will be a “pop-up” museum annex featuring the “Branson Boom Exhibition,” which provides the history of Branson’s Live Music Shows rise to national fame. The exhibition was created by Branson Update Magazine Publisher and Photographer Michael London.
“I’m so thankful Marshall has chosen to bring my life’s work to the Branson community,” London said. “As a tour trade publication, many in the local community have never seen this special live action show photography…plus, this exhibition is a tribute to all the entertainers and people that supported the boom of the live music show business in Branson.”
The “Branson Boom Exhibition” will remain on display from Saturday, May 6 through Saturday, May 27. Hours for the exhibition will be 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 1 to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission to the London’s display is free and will be closed on Tuesdays.
“Our mission is to preserve the history and advance the future of Branson’s live music show industry,” Howden said. “We felt this exhibit does just that...it shows us (through) vivid photography, our live music show history and also the cooperative marketing efforts that helped Branson become famous. Many of those cooperative marketing efforts are still going on today.”
Branson Update Magazine debuted in 1994 and as a trade publication it was delivered to professional tour operators across North America. Tens of thousands of motorcoaches filled with thousands upon thousands of visitors traveled here beginning in the ‘90s. London said most of these group tours were planned using Branson Update.
“I want to thank the advertising sponsors of Branson Update magazine. Their support made Branson Update magazine a powerful marketing tool and has made this exhibition possible,” London said. “As Branson Update only went out of market to professional tour operators, this will be an opportunity for many of our locals to journey (through) never before seen photos of our stars and historical events.”
The “Branson Boom Exhibition” also features several of the special contributions London made to the growth of Branson, including the “Branson’s Fun for Everyone” publicity campaign, the 100 show celebration, Ozark Mountain Christmas cooperative, and more. London received a special award from the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB for his participation in making Branson famous.
“Michael’s participation and leadership in many initiatives to make Branson a national destination are well known,” Branson Mayor Larry Milton said. “He is always looking for ways to improve and to contribute to our community marketing efforts to get more people here—most notably his publication, Branson Update, which was a vital part of the tour bus boom of the late 90’s, and importantly his volunteer work done to make the guest experience better through projects such as map and signage improvements. All of these contributions to Branson are displayed in the Song of Hope Museum special ‘Branson Boom Exhibit’ but perhaps the greatest of all of Michael’s contributions is the publicity campaign ‘Branson’s Fun for Everyone’ that resulted in the ‘fun’ message literally going around the world on the internet.”
Following its grand opening on Saturday, the Song of Hope Museum will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. Admission is free. The museum is located at the Coffelt Country Craft Village on Hwy. 165 just south of the Baldknobbers’ Branson Famous Theater.
For additional information on the museum contact Howden at 417-598-3105. To learn more about the “Branson Boom Exhibition” call London at 417-230-4939.
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