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Fans flock to Tina Turner's hometown museum after her death

Singer Tina Turner performs on stage, during a concert in London. Turner died Wednesday at 83.
Kirsty Wigglesworth
/
AP
Singer Tina Turner performs on stage, during a concert in London. Turner died Wednesday at 83.

Updated May 26, 2023 at 3:23 PM ET

The Tina Turner Museum in Brownsville, Tenn., is seeing a surge in visitors after her death, even staying open late on Wednesday night so fans could pay tribute.

"It's crazy around here," said Sonia Outlaw-Clark, executive director of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center and the Tina Turner Museum. "There have been a few people leaving flowers."

The museum is just a few miles from where Tina Turner grew up in Nutbush, Tenn. The one-room museum is housed inside the singer's former schoolhouse, the restored Flagg Grove School. The school was built by her great uncle in 1889.

"It still has original floors, ceilings, and walls. It still has the desk and benches from the school," said Outlaw-Clark.

A museum honoring singer Tina Turner is housed inside an old one-room schoolhouse where she attended classes as a child in West Tennessee.
Adrian Sainz / AP
/
AP
A museum honoring singer Tina Turner is housed inside an old one-room schoolhouse where she attended classes as a child in West Tennessee.

The museum is filled with Turner memorabilia such as her sparkling tour costumes, gold records, photos and artwork. They also have Turner's costume from the 1985 film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

"My favorite piece is the [high school] yearbook because it shows her before she ever started her music career," said Outlaw-Clark. "They asked the students what they wanted to be, and she listed 'entertainer.' So we know she had aspirations of that even before she left Brownsville."

Two dresses worn by Tina Turner during on-stage performances are featured at the Tina Turner Museum.
Adrian Sainz / AP
/
AP
Two dresses worn by Tina Turner during on-stage performances are featured at the Tina Turner Museum.

Turner was famous for her thrilling live performances and her powerful voice. But Outlaw-Clark told Morning Edition it's her life story that fans admire most.

"Her story of overcoming, becoming whatever you want to be," she said. "And making things happen regardless of where you came from or what your circumstances are." Celebrities all over the world have also paid tribute to Turner on social media. Public figures — from Beyonce Knowles-Carter to President Biden have written statements honoring the singer.

The Tina Turner Museum plans to host a twilight memorial on Sunday evening. The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center will also be hosting the Exit 56 Blues Fest this weekend. Outlaw-Clark expects attendance to double as more people pay tribute to Turner.

Ally Schweitzer edited the broadcast version of this story.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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