Mayor Eric Adams and they city’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Laurie Cumbo Wednesday announced the city is putting $5.5 million in capital funds into the Universal Hip Hop Museum’s new facility in the Bronx – widely considered the birthplace of hip hop.
Standing at the construction site for what will be a 52,000-square-foot facility at the Bronx Point development Wednesday morning, Adams – who dubbed himself “a hip hop mayor” – said he was heavily influenced by the genre when he was growing up. Some of the hip hop artists and producers who had an impact on him included Fat Joe and DJ Ralph McDaniels.
“You have a mayor who grew up listening to hip hop music in the park,” Adams said. “Watching those early pioneers: DJ Ralph McDaniels. Running home to look at Video Music Box. You know, this moment’s so significant. What many of you have done, Russell [Simmons] and Fat Joe and all of you. You planted this seed in us. You planted who I am as a person. It’s what I received from these artists. These artists gave me this energy. So, when you see me moving in this level of confidence as a mayor [it’s] because I watched them with a level of confidence as they perform.”
Adams and Cumbo were joined by Simmons – co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and former Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr.
Adams’ office committed $2 million toward the $5.5 million capital funding allocation, with another $2 million coming from Gibson and the remaining $1.5 million from the City Council, according to a release. The allocation made to the hip hop museum was part of a larger $220 million in capital funding from the mayor, five borough presidents and City Council given to 70 cultural institutions across the city through the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget.
Additionally, DCA received more than $237 million in expense funding through the city budget, which will be distributed to over 1,000 cultural organizations across the city.
The mayor and Cumbo also announced new capital funding for other Bronx cultural institutions including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the New York Botanical Garden and the Pregones Puerto Rican Traveling Theater.
“Today is so phenomenal because we are recognizing the incredible tremendous talent and creativity here in the Bronx,” Cumbo said. “Mayor Eric Adams made a campaign promise that he was going to uplift the Bronx. So, we are making sure that we bring resources to every part of this city, but particularly communities like the Bronx that have been underserved and under-resourced for so long. We are writing those wrongs in this administration.”
Construction of the museum’s structure is under way, while the building out of its interior is set to begin next year, according to a release. The city expects the project to be finished by 2025.
The new facility will house gallery spaces, a black box theater, interactive exhibits and administrative office space.
The museum is part of the broader Bronx Point mixed-use development that was announced in 2017 under Diaz Jr. In addition to the museum, the development is also set to include 350 units of permanently affordable housing, a multiplex theater and public and educational spaces.
Due to hip hop’s global popularity, Gibson said she believes the museum will draw crowds not just from the borough and the city but from around the world.
“Think about the global destination that this site is going to be, not just for the Bronx and the city and the state, but for the world,” Gibson said.
Plus, the BP said, the museum is also an investment in the next generation of low income Black and brown people pursuing careers in hip hop.
“All of our young people that are rappers and artists today can look at these pioneers and see themselves,” Gibson said. “They can realize that their circumstance doesn’t determine their future, nor does their block block their blessing. That’s what this work is all about. We are investing in the next generation.”