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Motown Records: a Must-See For Music Lovers!

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Detroit, Michigan, be sure to have Motown Records and Museum at the top of your list. Motown Museum is located in the historic white home with royal blue trim, known as “Hitsville, U.S.A.” The tour includes a chance to sing a Motown hit in the legendary Studio A, where classics such as “My Guy,” “ABC,” “The Tears of A Clown,” and so many more were committed to vinyl. We weren’t allowed to video inside, which is why we haven’t created a vlog of our visit there. But photography is allowed, so read on for more from our awesome visit to Motown Records.

Motown Museum

The tour started in the museum, where we learned about the history and creation of Motown Records and saw a timeline of the properties acquired by Berry Gordy as he built and grew his hit making empire. The exhibit on display during out visit was Capturing A Culture Change: Motown Through The Lens of Jim Hendin, 1968-1972.

Entrance to Capturing a Culture Change exhibit at Motown Museum

Stephen stands in front of a wall of album covers a piece of the exhibit that highlights graphic designers at the Motown Records label photos from Motown's history part of the Capturing A Culture Change exhibit at Motown Museum

The Gordy Home

From the exhibit space, we crossed the threshold into parts of Berry Gordy’s personal home, where he lived with his family while working in the studio and office areas of the property. The spaces were still furnished with their vintage furniture and decor. It was like stepping back in time.

Berry Gordy's home at the Motown Museum Berry Gordy's home at the Motown Museum

Motown Records Offices

Then we moved downstairs, where we saw the offices that Motown was run out of. Our favorite part of this section of the studios was the candy vending machine: we learned that Gordy insisted that they not change the position of the candies in the machine, so that Little Stevie Wonder always knew exactly where to find his favorite.

the candy machine that Little Stevie Wonder favored

Motown offices a typewriter and receipt at the offices of Motown inside the office at Motown, Hitsville U.S.A.

Studio A

The final and most inspiring stop on the tour is famed Studio A. Naturally, we were all encouraged to sing along to “My Girl.” Then we were given time to examine and photograph (from behind a barrier) the instruments, sheet music, and other gear on display there. 

Stephen inside Studio A at Motown part of the recording studio in Motown part of Studio A in Motown Museum percussion instruments in Motown's Studio A instruments in Studio A Stephen takes a photo in Studio A Motown

The Details

Advance reservations are highly recommended before your visit to the Motown Museum. Tickets were $15 each when we went. We booked our tour two weeks in advance and noticed days were filling up during the week we planned to be there. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, the only way to go inside and see any of the museum, home, or studio was as part of a tour. But if you don’t manage to get tickets, you can still see the exterior of the property and take your photo with the iconic facade. And I’m pretty sure you can visit the gift shop, as well.*

We visited back in June, 2021, so masks and social distancing were required and enforced (thank you!). Guests were also required to fill out an online health questionnaire and get temperature checked before entering. The precautions increased our comfort level once inside the buildings, and I also suspect they helped to keep the tour group sizes smaller, which we appreciated. 

*As always, hours, availability, pricing and other details may change over time, so please consult the museum directly before your visit. Details provided here are based on our experience at the time of our own visit only. 

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10 thoughts on “Motown Records: a Must-See For Music Lovers!”

  1. This looks like a fascinating museum to visit for such an iconic record label. Loved the vintage furniture in Berry Gordy’s home and the office. And the candy machine was just brilliant! The studio looked to be the highlight of the visit and it’s nice that you are encouraged to sing along to make the whole experience more interactive.

    1. It’s absolutely so worth a visit, especially if you’re a fan of the music. Even though it’s museum-y nowadays, everything is so well preserved it’s like you’re standing there during the creation of the magic. the vibes are off the charts.

  2. Great photos. I love the retro furniture and how they have kept the offices and side rooms just as they were. I grew up with Motown music and loved it. I remeber, personally, many of those songs – showing my age now!
    I would robsolutely love going round that site and seeing the memorabilia. I never knew this was in Detroit, although I knew Motown music was based here .Lucky you!

    1. Yeah, it’s a fantastic time capsule with SO much history and so much iconic music that came out of that little place. Goosebumps! Fun fact: “Motown” stems from Detroit’s nickname – “The Motor City!”

    1. Oh yeah, “items” is an understatement – it’s like a time capsule! What a significant, cultural place. And as a musician and massive Motown fan, I’ve (Stephen) wanted to visit for as long as I could remember. And it was extra special to get to share the experience with Andie, too!

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