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News Release
Motown: The Sound of Young America Debuts at the Oregon Historical Society Friday, September 23 - 09/19/22

Download images for press at bit.ly/motownpresskit.

Portland, OR — September 19, 2022 — The 1960s was one of the most musically diverse decades in American history. While The Beatles and Bob Dylan topped the charts, a unique sound out of Detroit also shaped the musical landscape. It originated on the city’s streets and in its housing projects, reflecting seismic shifts in not just pop music, but in racial attitudes and youth culture. Motown: The Sound of Young America, on view at the Oregon Historical Society in downtown Portland from September 23, 2022, through March 26, 2023, shares the story of the famed record company and the artists who collectively changed the musical direction of the nation. 

Berry Gordy, Jr., was the visionary behind both the music and the Black-owned record company he named Motown. A former prizefighter and songwriter, he believed that talent could be found on nearly every Detroit streetcorner. This blend of gospel, blues, and pop quickly became “The Sound of Young America,” crashing the American pop charts and challenging the British Invasion. From Motown came the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Gaye, the Jackson 5, and others. 

Curated by the GRAMMY Museum®, this dynamic, engaging exhibition was originally created in 2019 in honor of the 60th anniversary of Motown Records, and has since been expanded to feature Motown Records’ move to Los Angeles and highlight the new young talent on Motown’s current roster.

Motown: The Sound of Young America features stage outfits from many of the label’s top performers, interviews with Motown legends, and opportunities for visitors to get deep inside the creative process perfected at Motown. Visitors will also experience interactive displays, including an opportunity to perform the Supremes’ “Stop! In The Name Of Love” on stage and learn the Temptations’ signature dance moves.

“One of my favorite parts of the exhibition is a jukebox where visitors can play their favorite Motown hits in the gallery,” said OHS Boyle Family Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. “While this exhibition provides important context on a pivotal period in American pop culture history, it also engages visitors in fun interactive experiences that will provide a sense of nostalgia for many.”

Some of the iconic pieces on display in the exhibition include:

  • The iconic “Butterfly” gowns worn by the Supremes
  • A harmonica and keyboard played by Stevie Wonder
  • Ray Parker, Jr.’s, Gretsch guitar
  • A full set of Jackson 5 outfits
  • Jackets worn by Boyz II Men 
  • An outfit worn by a member of the Temptations

The Oregon Historical Society’s museum is open seven days a week, Monday–Saturday 10am–5pm and Sunday 12pm–5pm. Admission is $10, with discounts for students, seniors, teachers, and youth. Admission is free every day for OHS members and Multnomah County residents. Learn more and plan your visit at ohs.org/motown.

About the Oregon Historical Society

For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state’s collective memory, preserving a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms & website (ohs.org), educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon’s history open and accessible to all. We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon’s cannot be contained within a single story or point of view. 

View more news releases from Oregon Historical Society.