Music lovers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area can rejoice this week because this past weekend marked the opening of the Texas Musicians Museum (TTM) in historic downtown Irving.
"We are very interested in evolving downtown Irving and we know small, intimate venues are popular and a growing trend in North Texas,” said Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne. “We had a great response to the opening party that attracted more than 500 people. A little music, some good food and a terrific atmosphere combine to deliver a winning formula. This is the just the first of what's to come."
Richardson resident and Founder/Director of the Texas Musicians Museum, Thomas Kreason got hooked on memorabilia gathering while working for the Hard Rock Café in Dallas in the late 80s working in the memorabilia department where he had the job of buying and selling memorabilia.
In 1996, Kreason began tailoring his collection to Texas music history pieces and he discovered that many historical pieces were being bought and going overseas or even just out of state, often to private collections where the items would never be seen again.
"People often ask what makes us unique from other musician museums in Texas,” said Kreason. “What most don't realize is that we have the largest public display of Texas music history in the world, and represent all genres of music.”
As for the museum’s earlier location it moved out of Waxahachie in 2011 and the display pieces were moved into storage until recently when the folks at the Economic Development and Operations for the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce reached out to Kreason about moving the museum to Irving. He says he liked the idea since he was interested in being near a rail line and the Trinity Railway Express is two blocks from the new building.
“It met all of the requirements for the new home of TMM,” Kreason said.
Formerly a car dealership, the museum’s new home is pretty impressive too with stage clothes from artists such as the Dixie Chicks, Hank Thompson, Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin, Roy Orbison and Barbara Mandrell. The museum’s prize piece is a parlor guitar from 1865 that was played by bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson. There’s also a sixth grade yearbook signed by Buddy Holly, said to be his very first ‘autograph.’
TMM board member George Gimarc, a disc jockey and author of the Punk Diary series, is also adding his own collection of items on loan to the facility. Some of his donated pieces include documents such as club fliers, contracts, letters, autographed items, sound recordings from 1920s records and a field recorder formerly owned by folk music collector Alan Lomax. The archival work of Austin-born Lomax and his father, John Lomax, is housed in the Library of Congress. The museum will also feature a record that Waylon Jennings used to play to introduce his radio show. The item also includes handwritten markings.
In addition to the museum folks can also enjoy a Music Garden that also just opened for dinner. With a crosswalk on Irving Boulevard linking a free parking lot to the museum, Kreason explained that “As you hit the museum side, the crosswalk’s black-and-white stripes turn into a keyboard motif. To the left is the museum; to the right is the large music garden where there’ll be live performances, beer and wine and other beverages served as well as a catering company to provide food.”
Currently the museum offers self-guided tours and the collection is worth close to $1 million. However, Kreason said in closing he is not stopping there “We will constantly be adding and rotating items, so your experience at Texas Musicians Museum will always be exciting and new."