(Clarksdale, MS) The Delta Blues Museum of Clarksdale, Mississippi is getting national attention.
For museum workers and visitors the award comes as no surprise.
Shelly Ritter is Executive Director of the Delta Blues Museum, “It looks like we’re the only southeastern institution that is receiving a medal this year.”
She found out Tuesday the museum is one of ten recipients of the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
The award recognizes the museum’s work in the community, which includes music lessons to students of any age taught by local blues musicians.
“Rather than in a formal way, like you might learn notes and scales and things, you just learn by playing. Like the traditional method that blues was taught, all those years ago,” said Ritter.
In 2012, the Delta Blues Museum opened a 7300 square foot exhibit space called the “Muddy Waters” wing.
The museum opened in 1979 in the Clarksdale Library, but later moved to the Clarksdale freight depot 20 years later.
It not only draws local visitors but people from across the globe.
Reaching what Shelly Ritter calls, the global music community, “People from all over the world appreciate blues music and have been influenced by it or at least know it in some form or the other.”
Among those “global” visitors on Tuesday were two women from Belgium making their first trip to the museum.
One woman said the unique style of music is soul-stirring, “The music goes in my heart, yes in my heart. And in all my body I feel it and I like it.”
The Delta Blues Museum is Mississippi’s oldest music museum.
The honor is awarded to museums and libraries for their community service and will be presented to Clarksdale’s museum representatives in Washington, D.C. on May 8th.