If the curators had done nothing to Paisley Park it would still be an honor to be there. I know: I was there on day two. That they have modified the space – despite roundly and falsely claiming to have left some rooms on the tour “untouched” – but not amplified much about the experience beyond making you feel like you should feel lucky to be there at all does generate some disappointments along the way. There is something magical about being in Paisley Park even as it is, but for those who are more than the casual fan, there are a lot of missed opportunities. Prince’s legacy should thrive in a singular way through the vehicle that only Paisley Park can provide. Here are a few ways the opportunity to tour Paisley Park can improve as an experience (because it should be an immersive experience, not a ham-fisted tour). I sorely want this project to win not only because he wanted it to win, but as someone who cared in a real way for Prince. He changed my life. Being in Paisley Park could have that effect on everyone who walked in the doors if they…
1) Stop lying about the rooms being untouched.
I know you don’t mean all of them, but even the ones you’re advertising as untouched have been manipulated (and by extension, so have we. Not cool). I’d rather you touch them by putting even more stuff in them. I don’t need to see a dirty plate or anything. I’d settle for some insight into his record collection, or some more instruments. The cat carriers are cute, but not canon, yo. We’ve figured out that cat been gone. Quit trying to play with our emotions.
2) Stop being stingy.
This is my biggest gripe. There isn’t enough stuff on display, period. For someone who supposedly had 200 guitars, I think I saw 10. More costumes, more instruments, more memorabilia, more pictures…more everything, please. I had more – and more unique – posters in my dorm room. And why am I seeing posters at all? I should be seeing props, not stuff I already own. Half of these rooms should feel like the junky dressing room in Purple Rain. Remember how eclectic and wild that room was? Break out the puppets and masks, yo. Get a little funky with it.
3) Let it be free roaming, like an actual museum.
The guided tours are largely being led by well-meaning but uninformed folks who (sometimes) have better stories when you pull them to the side than the script they have to give. Q&A in some of the areas was painful for super-fans. You’ve stripped it down to child-safe levels anyway, so you might as well let us just walk around until we see everything. I know you want to get us for a VIP ticket and “extra content”, but…
4) Make VIP a real thing.
Being VIP supposedly adds more time on the tour with a professional guide, with the lone photo opportunity being to take a picture with a piano that a thousand people are going to have. Add some real value to this level: access to other spaces, multiple photo ops, access to other unreleased music…you know, stuff you can’t just walk into. The tickets are still reasonable to me, but ultimately there wasn’t much stopping someone who wasn’t VIP from accessing the VIP tour anyway.
5) More music.
If you’re on a Paisley Park tour you probably already own most of his music. If we get to go into his studios, we want to feel like we’re really in there. The curators already let a little of this happen in one studio, where they play a snippet of a song off of Tidal, and another actually unreleased track for about 30 seconds. The studios are the heart of Paisley Park. It’s where the Prince we love did all the stuff we love him for. Amplify this with more unreleased music. It doesn’t have to be pristine. We’re a thirsty lot.
6) More video.
Considering his private (“untouched!”) editing bay is one of the first things you see on the tour, there should be more video playing in general. And not just loops of music videos, but concerts (of which there is some), interviews, and other stuff we’ve heard about but never seen. There are thousands of hours of footage in that complex. There should be video almost everywhere you turn. One of the stops is in a private watching room. There are TVs in almost every room. Turn the TVs on and let some stuff play as we come through.
7) Get some larger shirts.
Even the XXL shirts were pretty small. I’m sure that’s fine for Prince on his off days, but real XXL folks are putting those shirts in memory quilts when we want to wear them.
8) Get some anecdotes from the people who know.
One of the unexpected benefits to opening up Paisley Park as a museum is all of the people who were there over the years while Prince was alive giving insight into aspects of the space that are impossible to glean out of the tour. Was the NPG Music Club really where he partied? Where was the basketball hoop? Where did rehearsals take place, and what were they like? Some video clips of interviews would be nice, and it would cut down on the number of embarrassing Q&A moments between super-fans and tour guides trying to answer these questions.
9) Light the skylights.
If it’s true that the pyramids on top of Paisley Park would light up whenever Prince was present, then keep them on. All the time. Forever.
– Some Graffiti Bridge stuff would be nice.
To be clear: This one makes me feel a little dirty to propose, so much so I couldn’t justify it on the proper list. Graffiti Bridge was a project whose importance we would all do well to not exaggerate. That said, he created the film in Paisley Park. Talk about speaking truth to power. If there is anything floating around from this film in terms of props you’d do well to put it on display. He put all his eggs in that basket at the time and a jacket is hardly worthy of capturing that effort (assuming everything wasn’t chucked into the dumpster after it flopped).