The internationally acclaimed Delta Blues Museum, located in the former Illinois Central Railroad freight depot in downtown Clarksdale, next door to Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club, is a mecca for blues fans from around the world. The exterior concept continued the linear arrangement of the building along the still active railroad tracks as well as heavy masonry book-ends existing at the end of the freight room and continuing this vocabulary by showcasing the main exhibit area between them. The exhibit space is connected to the existing building with a smaller scale space providing a pathway but also allowing for support spaces, now referred to as the ‘connector’. The connector accommodates an elevator/stair tower similar to the surrounding forms of the industrial buildings in the area. The western-most facade accommodates a stair enclosure housed with grated steel and framework sandwiched between two masonry book-ends. Engraved brick pavers create a path between old railroad tracks to allow the visitor to walk the ‘tracks’ locating their name.The first floor of the addition focuses on the museums exclusive Muddy Waters collection. The gallery now showcases the Muddy Waters Cabin. The exterior sloped roof overhang is carried through to the interior creating the feeling of a porch. Large windows wrapping around the northwest corner aide in aligning this porch-like feel to the interior. The interior finishes include reclaimed wood flooring, tongue and groove wood siding, and exposed brick. Exposed structure can be seen while the sloped ‘porch’ ceilings are clad with wood. The second floor accommodates a large open space used for meetings and future exhibits and its band of windows frame the open blue sky with a hint of the delta town skyline. Large timber trusses are exposed throughout the space giving an industrial railroad feel. The color scheme reflects the colors of the earth in the delta farming fields and the Delta’s infamous sunsets.
Client: City of Clarksdale & Delta Blues Museum
Date Completed: 2012