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Emerson College Announces Digital Museum for Banjo Instrument

Emerson College is devoting a digital museum to musical instrument banjo which played a central role in African-American and rural whites traditional music.

The college made the announcement on Thursday after the museum created by Associate Professor Marc Fields and produced by Fields and Assistant Professor Shaun Clarke was made ready for the release.

The digital museum, supported by a $100,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant, has been built on a searchable archive of over 300 hours of original media, archival footage, stills, and recordings.

“The banjo has symbolized patriotism and protest, pain and pleasure, low entertainment and sophisticated leisure. It’s been a black instrument, a white instrument, a laborer’s pastime and a socialite’s diversion, a young person’s fad and an old-timer’s friend. But mostly it’s been a snubbed instrument,” said Fields, who aims to showcase the banjo’s rich and diverse music and players in their historical context.

The museum aims to let the people discover stories about the instrument and is set for launch in June 2019.


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