From now until forever, it's unlikely that you'd be able to discuss Detroit or black culture without also granting airtime to the icon that was Aretha Franklin. To this spirit, the Charles H. Wright Museum and the Detroit Historical Museum have both organized exhibitions meant to bid farewell to the Queen of Soul while also welcoming her to history. Think at The Wright opened Sept. 21 was decided on quickly in the days between Franklin's death and her public viewing. When BLAC spoke with curator of collections and exhibitions Patrina Chatman, the exhibition had not yet opened but she promised a host of personal effects, images and video. Along with the beloved music, expect an exploration of Franklin's civil rights and women's rights work. Chatman says, "She was a kaleidoscope. She did all kinds of things in her life."
The Detroit Historical Museum's simply named Aretha is slated for Oct. 27. Most notable is the vignette being planned in the museum's music lab. A dress belonging to Franklin will be displayed in front of a standing microphone and they'll "wallpaper" the space with records – on loan from Melodies & Memories in Eastpointe. "It's almost every single one of the records that she ever recorded," says Tracy Irwin, chief exhibitions and enrichment officer. "We're going to try to create the feel of '67 when 'Respect' was being recorded." Visitors will be able to view old copies of Jet magazine in which Franklin was featured, rare articles and interviews, early recordings with her father the Rev. C.L. Franklin and, like The Wright, the exhibition will examine her activism. Irwin says, "She was a strong woman with a strong presence, and I think that's going to be long remembered."