Taylor Swift has taught a generation of kids to appreciate country music over the last five years. Now, she's donating $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to make sure that education continues.
The gift is the largest given to the museum by an artist and is the second largest from an individual, officials said. It will fund the Taylor Swift Education Center, an exhibit and classroom space scheduled to open in 2014.
"In terms of what it will allow us to do, we do education very well now," museum director Kyle Young said. "It will allow us to do what we do better, serve more people, develop new programs and I'm happy to say that as we talked through this opportunity with Taylor, she very much wants to be involved in an advisory capacity in what we do. Is there a better person out there who's in touch with a young audience? I think not. I was joking we should be paying her to do that. I was only joking."
The new education center is part of the museum's $75 million "Working on a Building" expansion project that will increase the space more than 200,000 square feet to 350,000. The expansion is part of the new convention center project in downtown Nashville and will include a new concert theater, more room for exhibits and archives, and a shared entrance with a new hotel.
Swift's education center will have its own exterior entrance and is 7,500 square feet-plus spread over two stories. It will include three classrooms and exhibit space and will allow the museum to add to its youth education programs. The new space will house interactive activities such as a musical petting zoo and a "wet" classroom space to make concert posters and other art projects. The expansion also would allow the museum to start new programs and workshops and for teens and senior citizens as well as continuing workshops.
The 22-year-old singer-songwriter is country music's top-selling artist and current ambassador to the world. The six-time Grammy winner is a two-time winner of both the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music entertainer of the year awards and has taken the genre to Asia, Europe and Australia as well as the top of the U.S. pop charts.
She has a long history with the museum. One of her first public performances was on the building's plaza. She signed her record contract there. And she has donated her time to the museum's "All For The Hall" fundraisers.
"For Taylor to want to engage herself in the life of this place in such an appropriate way ... every way you slice it and dice it, it's great for this place," Young said.