Once renovations on the McCoy Church are complete, there will be many interactive exhibits to explore. Guests will first enter the semi-enclosed theater for orientation and through this immersive media experience, be introduced to the Center’s philosophy: Gospel music is the vivid combination of life, religion and art. Highlighting the ways in which gospel tradition can have a widespread influence within our lives, this exhibit will entice visitors to discover more about gospel music.
In the next interactive hall, guests will step into an area that explores the rich culture of gospel music in Alabama. Exhibits and interpretation in this area highlight the critical role Birmingham and Alabama played in the development of gospel music. This area may include an interactive map showing the national and international influence of Alabama gospel music.
Another key interactive exhibit will be the Gospel Music Timeline. After guests have gathered basic knowledge about gospel’s importance in the world and its significance in Alabama, they can delve into a rich, historical timeline. This woven narrative of people, places and events provides a deep, vibrant portrait of the history and future of gospel music. The early roots and influences of gospel, from Africa to Hymnal music and beyond, will be shown on a row of flat screen displays, creating a collage of moving visual images. From the coining of the term “gospel music” near the turn of the century, the displays will focus more heavily on artifacts, historic documents and images, and listening stations will provide both compelling oral histories and vibrant examples of music.
Other unique features we will include are a research library, recording studio and rehearsal spaces, which will be open for reservations. The recording studio will offer visitors a real-time experience of the day-to-day recording of songs, performer interviews, news and events. Adjacent to the studio, a research library and archive will allow scholars to further their own knowledge and the general study of important aspects of the gospel tradition. Finally, a lower-level rehearsal space will connect to the sanctuary upstairs, allowing performers a private and calm area to warm up. On the second floor, additional rehearsal space will be available for professional musicians to meet, compose and practice their arts.