Minnesota History Center celebrates all things First Avenue with new exhibit

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Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Minnesota’s most well-known music club.

The Minnesota History Center is honoring the occasion with a new exhibit where First Avenue takes center stage.

FOX 9 got a sneak peek at the exhibit called, “First Avenue: Stories from Minnesota’s Main Room.”  

From the moment Prince stepped on stage in the movie “Purple Rain," First Avenue became an international institution.

Now, the iconic Minneapolis music venue is getting its own turn in the spotlight at the exhibit.

“It’s one of the longest-running independently-owned music clubs in the country and we really wanted to highlight not only the things people know, but we also cover the behind-the-scenes stories,” said Annie Johnson, the Minnesota History Center manager.

From pictures of its humble beginnings as a Greyhound bus depot in 1937, to clips of its reopening as a spot for live music called The Depot in the 1970s, the exhibit is proof that First Avenue is second-to-none in the hearts of many Minnesotans.

“The heyday of First Avenue is whenever you were there,” Johnson said. “So, we can’t cover every band, so we want to put up stories or artifacts that help spark a memory or take you back to the first time you walked into the space.”

Among the items on display is a light-up dance floor that pays tribute to the club’s dance and disco era under the name Uncle Sam’s.

Also, the exhibit features Doomtree’s actual tour van called “The Mountain,” which gives visitors a glimpse of what life is like for a band on the road.

Of course, there is also a room devoted to all things Prince, including the suit he wore in “Purple Rain.”

“We want people to come away thinking about not only what the place means to them, but about what First Avenue means to the Twin Cities,” Johnson said.

The First Avenue exhibit opens Saturday at the Minnesota History Center and will run for about a year.