Normally, if you’re ready to start touring a museum and someone’s cellphone sounds, the rest of the group is likely to be annoyed. But if you’re at Paisley Park and the cellphone is playing the famous opening to Prince’s song “Let’s Go Crazy,” it’s more likely that the crowd will chuckle and applaud — which is exactly what happened at Paisley Park Thursday.
In spite of some hiccups this week, Paisley Park opened (briefly) as a museum Thursday. If you have the opportunity to go on one of the days it’s open to the public—and hopefully, that will soon be a regular event—is it worth it?
Related: Paisley Park Opens For Limited Tours
It is, especially if you’re a Prince fan. Not surprisingly, the first day had some rough spots, but as time goes on and the site gets more experience, things should run more smoothly. But even on Day One, the staff and tour guides had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and excitement for the project, and often projected a sense of awe that they were in Prince’s house, as it were.
And what a house. Photos were strictly forbidden (signs warned that violators would be barred for life), so this post will be sadly image-free. But here’s what you would see if you get the chance to visit. Note: If you can swing the price, the VIP tour is worth the upgrade. You’ll see several rooms and mementoes not available on the basic tour, and you’ll have a guide versus going self-guided. Whichever tour you take, don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with the people around you. First-day visitors included people from Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam.
The lobby is very Prince. There are murals of some of his signature guitars, including the famous purple symbol one, and there’s a large mural of a hand with a rainbow coming from it reaching out to Prince. Many of the walls are painted blue with light white clouds, which the guide said was Prince’s way of expressing a sense of freedom. Natural light was important to him; in the lobby, the ceiling was painted with a night sky vista surrounded by piano keys, while the main atrium area (where his remains are kept, in a miniature version of Paisley Park) has vaulted windows that let in both day and night skies.
Prince had already begun work on a museum before his death, and there are several rooms and exhibits themed by different projects (“Diamonds and Pearls,” Sign O’ the Times”) that he had worked that, some of which include musical instruments, marketing materials and even the clothes he used for those tours. Especially touching is his office: a large, comfortable room that was left exactly as it was on the day Prince died. There are papers on the desk, a briefcase next to it.
There are two studios in the facility, one of which recorded the likes of Aretha Franklin and James Brown. Prince was working on a new jazz album in that studio, and you’ll be treated to a currently unreleased song snippet (and let us hope eventually the album will be released). The next sight is the Influence Hallway, which Prince designed himself. It’s a mural with Prince in the middle, and to one side are musicians who influenced him, such as Jimi Hendrix and James Brown, while on the other are musicians who were influenced by him, including Morris Day and Sheila E.
The Purple Rain room is a loving homage to the movie, complete with First Avenue mural, the motorcycle, costumes and keyboard from the movie, and a cascading purple light show. His other movies also have their places marked. Then there’s a timeline hallway, also designed by Prince, with a mural on one side that details his career in music, while the other side has a number of the awards he won over the years (an Oscar, Grammys, MTV Video Award, etc.). Prince had been giving tours of this area for several years to guests and attendees at his Paisley Park concerts, according to the tour guide.
Studio B had Prince’s ping-pong table, and also a special VIP tour attendee opportunity to have your photo taken sitting at a long purple piano, reportedly one that Prince played on the last night of his life.
The final leg of the tour was into a sizable soundstage, decked out with several different tour displays. Prince swapped out equipment after every tour, so each tour exhibit has different items and pieces of clothing, while a large-screen video of various tour pieces, including his late “Piano and a Microphone” tour, continues playing on loop. From there, visitors check out the NPG Room, where a good many late-night parties occurred, and finally, the Super Bowl Room. Here you’ll find a mural and video of Prince’s highly-regarded 2007 Super Bowl performance. You’ll also find an exhibit of items brought to Paisley Park in homage to Prince after his death, an exhibit that will change over time. There’s also a digital version, which people are encouraged to contribute to, on Paisley Park’s Facebook page.
While it’s unfortunate that photos were not allowed, it was also a bit of a blessing. Had I been focused on snapping photos, I wouldn’t have been able to simply relax and enjoy the tour as much as I did. So, as the city of Chanhassen and Paisley Park get their issues sorted out, make plans to attend—and leave your camera at home.
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out WCCO 4 News at 10 p.m. on Sunday nights, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.