Aretha Franklin ‘Think’ Exhibit Opens In Detroit This Week

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Aretha Franklin will be remembered in a new exhibition named Think: A Tribute to the Queen of Soul that will open at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Tuesday in the Grammy Award-winning singer’s hometown of Detroit starting Tuesday.

The exhibit, titled after one of Franklin’s biggest hits from the movie The Blues Brothers, will run through Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 21, according to the museum.

The Detroit Free Press said that the exhibit is an extension of a two-day public viewing after Franklin’s death on Aug. 16 as more than 31,000 traveled to the museum to pay respects to the woman who became known as the Queen of Soul.

“This is an opportunity for people to come back and engage, reminisce and reflect,” Wright museum board member Kelly Major Green told the Free Press.

A statement on the museum’s website stated that the exhibit will take “an intimate look at the life and times of the incomparable Aretha Franklin. Visitors will get to see Ms. Franklin’s life as a musician, civil rights activist, fashion icon, and so much more.”

The exhibition will include the original vinyl copy of Franklin’s first recording, the 1956 J.V.B. Records release Never Grow Old, the newspaper stated. The label introduced her as the “Daughter of Rev. C.L. Franklin,” who was a popular minister in the Detroit area at the time.

The display was arranged at the direction of Franklin’s family in the museum’s Coleman Young Exhibition Room to make visitors feel like they have walked “into a living room,” Green told the Free Press.

“The family had reached out to us for the visitation,” Green said days after Franklin’s death, per the newspaper. “We began to talk about how we could be in service to them. It was important to the family that we be able to move quickly.”

The body of Aretha Franklin lies in repose at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Aug. 28 in Detroit. Paul Sancya-Pool / Getty Images

The shoes and dress Franklin wore during the visitation will also be on display, the newspaper stated. Photos from Franklin’s private life along with her years in public as one of the country’s top R&B acts will be on display.

Videos featuring a number of Franklin’s performances will also be shown during the exhibit, the Free Press stated. Museum officials told the newspaper that the exhibition will change at various times as some artifacts are added and changed out.

George Hamilton, the museum’s chief operating officer, told the Free Press that parts of the museum exhibit will be placed into a larger traveling collection that will make stops around Michigan.

“The Aretha mojo lives,” Green said to the newspaper. “People are still swept up in this. It’s a beautiful tribute. We want to learn and see some things that are more intimate and touching about her. This personalizes her in a little different way.”