The Coventry Music Museum (CMM) is a permanent independent Museum, run entirely by unpaid volunteers. We are not run by Coventry City Council or any other institution, our income streams come mainly from our £3 and £1 entrance fees, donations and grants, plus our VIP Club. Donations, pledges and support is always welcome, as is the loan of any interesting Coventry/Warwickshire based items.
The museum is the life-long vision of Coventry Music Historian and Journalist Pete Chambers and his wife Julie. Pete and Julie quite happily give up four days of their week, to work for free, to promote Coventry and Warwickshire music. It’s already bringing visitors to the area from the West Midlands, all over Britain and the world (58 countries as at Easter 2016), and of course Coventry and Warwickshire!
The museum is NOT a 2-Tone museum, although 2-Tone is our unique selling point, 55% of the museum is dedicated to non-ska related displays, that look at the music from Coventry, Rugby, Leamington Spa, Nuneaton, Bedworth even touching on Birmingham in places.
We are a small but perfectly formed museum, with a big heart, and our feedback so far has been excellent, we hope to keep it that way. There’s lots to see and to do, including activities to interest and delight younger visitors, and a studio in which visitors can try their hand (and ears) at composing and music-making. Pete, Julie and the volunteers are always happy to engage in conversation, but we are totally at ease with some guests who want to be left alone throughout their visit. It’s your visit, so you play it how YOU want.
We are happy for you to take photos in moderations (we like to leave a little mystery to other potential visitors). Video can only be taken with permission of the staff on duty.
The 2-Tone Village, has a café, and vintage and new 2-Tone shop and a memorabilia shop, you will also find The Coventry Music Wall of Fame here. The Village is suitable for wheelchair users and had a disabled toilet. Wheelchair access to the museum is by stair climber only, please ring (07971171441) 24hrs before you visit if you wish to use this. Our volunteers are on hand to explain exhibits to the blind and partially sighted.
We are looking forward to seeing you, for more information contact the museum on 07971171441 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“The History of The Coventry Music Museum –
The Dawning Of A New Era”
When The Coventry Music Museum first opened its doors at the advent of November 2013, like all major projects, there was something of cross-fade of feelings, a project completed on one hand, and a long and exciting journey ahead on the other. Well so far that journey has been an exhilarating one and the museum in its seminal weeks is seeing a throughput of the like of 80 visitors a week.
Rewind some three years ago and the smiles from the team much in evidence now, were decidedly up-side-down when our initial project at Coventry University came to an end. That small project named 2-Tone Central, concentrated just on the 2-Tone genre. 2-Tone was created by ska bands The Specials and The Selecter in Coventry, and it also gave birth to the groups Madness and the Beat. Lasting some 11 months, the project was left homeless as the Student Union moved to newer premises. Within a few months new premises (about 2 miles out of Coventry city centre, in what looks to becoming the creative quarter of the city), were found and the work began to create a museum to tell all of Coventry’s varied musical past (not just its ska history).
The objectives of the project were clear, the vision fell into place on seeing what space we had to work with. Our objectives were to create a unique space on limited budgets to educate and entertain, to create sections in the space that made sense to the viewer, but in some cases set challenger for instances, the juxtaposing of a Victorian Music Hall being on the same site as The Eclipse Rave Club, and mixing the two timelines. Coventry has a steadfast tradition of multiculturalism, and this is unsurprisingly evident in its music. This too, was an important point-of-reference in our displays, be it 2-Tone music or Bhangra.
Being an independent museum and ran by volunteers, our objectives as a team were understandably flexible. I was very much against the idea of charging to access the museum, but industry experts, made it clear, that it would create an important income stream for the museum, that was implemented on opening, and the nominal charge of £3.00 for Adults and £1.00 for Children between the ages of 5 and 15, have worked without question.
Our journey was a slow one, the museum was based in a courtyard area that became The 2-Tone Village, consisting of cafe, a Caribbean restaurant and record and memorabilia and cloths shops. This was part of the plan, with a Coventry Wall of Fame to keep the museum idea alive. We received help from many of our regular customers, who we refer to as The Ska Family. Raising money in many ways to keep the project alive, the Village project was the idea of Geoff Holden, the man responsible for fitting out the museum to our demanding criteria. Help was at hand from the likes of Coventry Market, who right back had the passion for all things ‘Coventry’ and it was on a Market Stall where the first idea of a music display began. They, along with Heart Of England Community Foundation gave us funding that helped to create the custom made display cabinets. That event was closely followed by the creation of our ‘Rude Boys Bedroom’, a typical Specials/Selecter/Madness fan circa 1981, with all the trappings of a typical 1980’s teenager, including Brut, a pay packet with pound notes, a Cassette and pencil, posters, magazines of the day, plus a can of Tenants Beer. Now at least when visitors came to see the 2-Tone Village, we had something to show them, and come they did, from all over the country and all over the world.
The work continued, as the volunteer team grew with Promotions Manager Neil Twigger, Education Officer Carole Quinney, Multi-cultural Officer Suky Singh, and Directors Pete & Julie Chambers. With Phil, Lesley,Kate, and fellow Director Paul Roberts completing the team. Things began to fall into place, as we received news of a £10,000 grant From The Big Lottery Fund! A launch date was set for November 1st, and the feet dragging that had occupied the team for several months was transformed into frantic energy as the museum began to make sense. Posters and artwork were designed by new partners Dean Eastment, and printed free of charge by Print Works in Coventry, while Lorna Pepler came on board with Silver Moon marketing.
Our areas include ‘Pre Pop’ (beginning the story at AD60 and the Roman Occupation), a reproduction record shop listening booth, that tells the story of ‘The Coventry Sound’ and Manager Larry Page’s attempt to create an identifiable sound for the city to rival Mersey Beat by using a roster of artists that included three 14-year-old schoolgirls, and a band that dressed as Dickens’s Mr Pickwick. There’s ‘Lennon Corner’ and the mark II John & Yoko bench, the Timeline cabinets of the 50’s & 60’s (including a tape recorder used and owned by electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, and Vince Hill’s tour waistcoat). There’s a small display dedicated to frank Ifield, while the 70’s includes Folk Fiddler and Coventry resident Dave Swarbricks violin bow and platinum disc for 1,000,000 sales of albums with Fairport Convention. The 1980’s were a golden time for Coventry, and bands like King and The Primitives saw chart action as did Pete Waterman and Hazel O’Connor, and many of these artists have loaned us awards and items of clothing.
The 90’s and noughties are dominated with Bhangra stars Panjabi MC and Taz Singh, and many of their stage instruments. Then we have indie rockers The Enemy, and the demo disc that changed their lives. Nearly half of the museum is dedicated to 2-Tone, and there’s a cabinet dedicated to The Specials, The Selecter and generic 2-Tone bands that include The Beat and Madness. There’s a 2-Tone Legacy wall looking at the real meaning of 2-Tone and its multicultural message. Our temporary exhibition space, currently occupied by ‘On Bass – Sir Horace Panter’ looking at Horace’s remarkable career, not least in The Specials and General Public, but also his work as an artist, teacher… with stories from fans from all over the globe, telling just why Coventry artists ‘got into’ this very British music.
Bringing it right up to date, we also have our ‘Band/Artist Of The month’ showcasing current Coventry artists, who get to play below the museum at Knights venue. Our very first recipient was David Butler, an amazing talent with an incredible voice. Artists so far in 2016 have included Barbed Wire, Ruder Than U, and The Ellipsis.
The whole project has cost around £40,000 to create, after just a few weeks, we have received amazing feedback from our visitors, and we frequently receive excellent reviews on Trip advisor, often declaring us the ‘Coventry’s Best Museum’, and we are frequently the No.1 such attraction in the city. Not to get carried away, we know we have much to do in the future. We recently expanded, and now have double the space, with new galleries and our own entrance now.