View Full Version : Motown Historical Museum, aka Hitsville USA...worth the trip?


08-08-2010, 12:42 PM
Greetings, all.

I've spent nearly my whole life in Michigan and grew up on the sweet sounds of Motown, but I've never visited the Motown Historical Museum. I'm going to be in Detroit this fall, and I'd love to hear from those forum members who have made the trip to the museum...was it worth it? I'm a little nervous about the neighborhood, but my biggest concern is that it appears the guided tour doesn't give you much time to take in all the artifacts. I was lucky enough to visit the Motown exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in the 1990s, but I feel obligated to make the pilgrimage to Studio A...I just don't want to come away disappointed.



08-08-2010, 02:06 PM
I was lucky enough to visit the Motown Museum just last month and wouldn't have missed it for the world. For me, it was a dream trip that I had been wanting desperately to make for over 40 yeras. I was not disappointed. I have to say here though that I was shown round by Annette, Roz and Betty of the Vandellas!
It is only a small museum and there is definitely a time schedule that the guides keep to but there was just about enough time to see everything. Of course, in any museum there is always the desire to linger, especially if you are a die hard fan. You used the correct word - a pilgrimage. And it is a pigrimage that any Motown would not want to miss out on.
As far as the area is concerned - it was bright, clean and safe. There really were no worries there. Roz parked her car directly outside the museum and we had 10 yards to walk.
So my advice is simply to go and enjoy such an historic building and surround yourself with the special atmosphere that it exudes from every pore. It is worth it.

08-08-2010, 05:39 PM
I visited the museum last year, and even though the guided tour seemed a little rushed, everyone was free to linger after the tour and spend as much time as they wanted in any part of the museum. I spent another 45 minutes on the second floor looking at all of the great photos, and my friend simply sat mesmerized in the studio for about a half hour just drinking it all in. Afterwards we walked down West Grand to look at the other homes that were part of the Motown complex, and to a local drug store to get something to drink. At no time did we feel unsafe in the neighborhood.

All of the members of the museum staff that we talked to were very friendly, and a security guard even gave us directions to where the old Twenty Grand nightclub used to be, as well as Motown Studio B on Davison. In short, the Museum is definitely worth the trip! You will not be disappointed.

08-08-2010, 05:42 PM
If you are already in Detroit you may as well set aside the time to make the Visit, I travelled from the UK to see the Museum and on arrival at the Detroit Air port, the Man at passport control who asks if the trip is business or pleasure almost laughed out load when I told him the reason for the trip was to visit the Motown Museum, but it was something that I always wanted to do, the oppertunity arose so I took it.

08-08-2010, 05:48 PM
VCQ, it is a very good experience so if you like Motown, you will love the tour. As mentioned in a previous post, the neighbourhood is safe. Go and have a good time!

honest man
08-08-2010, 05:50 PM
i visited in may from the uk, stayed in detroit for 3 days loved it, greek town was where the bars were wonderful, hitsville was everything and more i ever dreamed off, and i was david ruffin for 3 mins in hitsville . my wife was diana in the supremes for her 3 mins, it is a memory i will cherish forever, GO FOR IT,just listening to clyde mcphatter -my block with a beer, must go ,cheers

08-08-2010, 07:00 PM
...luckily not all the threads from the old Forum have disappeared yet ...vcq ...here's my trip ...with pics ...from 2006


Grape :)

08-08-2010, 07:40 PM
brilliant thread that, really enjoyed it and i've gone 20 shades of green with envy!i got to it sometime,just got to.

08-08-2010, 08:12 PM
I enjoyed my visit there in the late 1990's. Hope to go back again in the near future.


08-09-2010, 12:36 AM
I would love to one day go there.Im not a tourist kind of person,I dont travel much but thats one place I would go in a heartbeat.

08-09-2010, 02:31 AM

I'm not a touristy person either but this place is like....the holy grail. When you go inside, see the layout, the studio, the reception, the attic, the kitchen, the gift shop, the memorabilia, and you can even try out the echo chamber. It's just fabulous. At times, yo wil have people who were there...I think Smokey's school pal was a guide there the last time I went. And you often find a 60's artist popping in there unannounced. Mrs Edwards used to be there on Friday's and that was a revelation in itself.

Dont miss out...I promise you, you wont regret it.

08-09-2010, 03:52 AM
I am from the Netherlands and we went to Hitsville on our honeymoon. Everyone was extremely nice. We met Esther Edwards, went to a Motown fundraiser at the Roostertail and were even brought on stage. There must be pictures in the old forum, I will look for them.

Definitely worth a long travel!

08-09-2010, 04:54 PM
I'm also from the Netherlands and I'm planning to go end of this year. Yes, Detroit just for Hitsville....

08-09-2010, 06:35 PM

What a wonderful reply.Thank you.Youve made me want to go there all the more now.Thats the pity about living in New Zealand Iam so far away but i will get there soon.Cheers.

08-09-2010, 08:10 PM
Someone at a yahoo forum said when he visited Hitsville some years ago he heard voices--lots of crying, screaming, and moaning. He made the place sound like it's haunted. I went a few years ago, but I didn't hear any voices so perhaps it's been exorcised? Or maybe I'm not sensitized to the supernatural? If that's the case and you are in touch with supernatural, you better brace yourself before you enter.

08-09-2010, 09:06 PM
Each time the Motown Museum is discussed on here I always add this tip -

If you will be buying souvenirs such as T-shirts, hats, mugs, etc., make sure you leave some time to shop at the Motown store in the airport. They have a far more extensive collection of Motown items than the gift shop at the Motown Museum. First check the Motown Museum's website for what is available in their gift shop and then compare to what is in the airport shop to make sure you don't miss out on something you'd love to have. You'll be pleasantly surprised what's available at the airport shop. And note that only ticketed passengers can shop there because it's within the secured part of the airport. So when you'e leaving town, go really early so you have more time to shop for goodies to take home for family and friends.

Also, check the Motown Museum website for the days and hours they are open before you make firm plans. Not sure, but I thought they were closed on Mondays.

I've been there a few times, once with a few SDF members who were in town. It was just great. It still astounds me that so much great music came out of such a tiny studio. I'm not even a half hour away, should go back again soon.


08-09-2010, 11:08 PM
"Someone at a yahoo forum said when he visited Hitsville some years ago he heard voices--lots of crying, screaming, and moaning. He made the place sound like it's haunted." ROTFLMFAO

The person who "claimed" he heard the voices is more than a little eccentric.

The Motown Museum in Detroit is not to be missed. One of the most fascinating and moving experiences of my life. That museum is musical history. Fortunately I didn't hear any screaming or moaning. LOL

08-09-2010, 11:34 PM
It's a must! I remember going several years ago and there was this weird feeling walking down into Studio A. You'll know what it is when you walk into it. Certainly something that makes the room so special.

Another awesome music shop is at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It's a little expensive, but they have way more things than any other music store. They have all the Motown Hip-O releases, reprinted 45's, lots of CD imports, etc. I remember seeing "the Complete Motown Singles: Volume 6 - 1966" in their store when it was sold out on all of the online music stores. I'm not sure if it is there anymore. I'll check tomorrow when I go in for my internship. I also remember seeing the UK Motown Anthologies in there too. They certainly have a great collection of Motown material as well as all other genres.

08-10-2010, 04:44 AM
Thats why I believe Mary Wilsons touring exhibit should have a pernament home -its proved so popular and if fans donated their own memrobillia it would be even more brilliant.

08-10-2010, 05:33 AM
I visited the museum over ten years ago and it was akin to having a religious experience. The downside was that when I got back to England, everything was such an anticlimax that I was depressed for a month.

08-10-2010, 04:21 PM
I visited the Motown Museum/Hitsville USA in the late summer of 2002...and damned near kissed the ground!!!

Seriously, I skipped the guided tour and saw the studio, the offices, the echo chamber, tape vault, upstairs areas as well as the house next door - which was attached via a small corridor. Went by the gift shop and bought a Motown T-shirt. Small location - sure. Worth the trip - absolutely. Would I go there again next time I'm in the Motor City - you bet (and I'll bring friends!).

Kevin Goins - KevGo

08-11-2010, 04:50 PM
VCQ, I think you should visit the Museum. It is a great place and lots of very interesting items to see. It has come a long way from the early days in the mid 80's.

08-14-2010, 12:53 PM
This thread makes me wanna come for sure! Thanks for this, Grape, I've enjoyed your pictures.

Does anyone know when the annual Hitsville fundraiser gala will be held? Normally it's sometime November but does anyone know the exact date? It would be great combination for me....

I've send a mail to Jody Carlson of the Motown Museum but did not get any reply yet.

08-14-2010, 12:56 PM
Oh...and how to apply for a special tour from the Vandellas, Velvelettes or some other Motown stars? Since I've read the book about the Andantes I know two of the girls still live in Detroit. How wonderful it will be to meet some of those stars.

09-01-2010, 01:19 PM
This is a great experience - I still believe this whole experience can be enhanced with a visit to the Gordy/Motown Mansion as part of this tour.

09-03-2010, 08:52 PM
VCQ...Should you go? If you are Jewish would you go to the Western Wall? If you are Catholic would you go to the Vatican? If you are Muslim would you go to Mecca? Studio A is holy ground where musical spontaneous combustion occurred in the 60's and early 70's. The most creative writers...the most innovative producers...the most talented performers...and the greatest band in musical history came together and gave us all music that changed the world and will never be forgotten. It is awe-inspiring to stand in the space where all this happened. Don't miss it!