It may sound unusual, but Bill Miller thanks former president Richard Nixon for being the catalyst behind the Johnny Cash Museum
Well, of course there's more to the story.
However, you need to start form the beginning to understand how a request from the 37th president's library led to the opening of the museum in Nashville, Tenn
Miller has been a Johnny Cash
fan ever since he was nine years old; and like many fans, he first began collecting memorabilia like posters, records and magazines. He even admits that when Cash performed in the area, he would sneak backstage. After some time, and realizing he was harmless, he received a backstage pass that paved the way for him to develop a friendship with Johnny Cash and his family.
As the years went by, acquiring items became a serious passion for Miller, and the
collection grew more “exotic.”
“Cash’s family, friends, and associates would supplement the collection; and it kept building and building. Managing all of the items became a full time venture.”
One day, curators from the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
approached Miller. They wanted to do an exhibit for Johnny Cash’s 70th birthday. Nixon happened to be a huge fan of Cash’s, and Cash had performed for Nixon and met with him as well.
“The curators came in my house wearing white gloves and caring boxes. My entire collection was all over the place. None of it had been curated, until now.”
When Johnny Cash: A 70th Birthday Tribute opened at the library, Miller recalls the first time he saw the exhibit.
“It blew me away to see the items professionally displayed, and people walking through looking at them.”
It also made me realize that it doesn’t to me, but to the world. The collection needed to be accessible to all of Cash’s fans.”
So the search began the perfect place and venue for Johnny Cash Museum. After eliminating different destination for different reasons, Miller settled on Nashville, which he says, “is the most natural place for it to be.”
Fast forward to May 30, 2013, the doors to the museum, located at 119 Third Avenue South, between Demonbreun and Broadway, (“couldn’t have chosen a better place to be in the middle of it all”) opened.
Visitors can see everything from Cash’s first childhood toy (marbles) to his FFA card to handwritten lyrics for the last song he ever wrote. Other displays include costumes, instruments and more. Miller says it’s a representation of his life through artifacts from cradle to grave.
As for the unique item at the museum, Miller says it would have to be the ruins from
Cash’s home that was located in Hendersonville, Tenn. The house was purchased by Barry Gibbs and due to a faulty renovation process, the house exploded. Well, Miller contact Gibbs if he could dissemble a section to reassemble in the museum. And visitors will find this 15 x 20 section inside the museum.
The Johnny Cash Museum is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Admission is $14 and there are discounts available for students, members of the military and others.
photos courtesy of Jarrett Gaza