It took Bill Miller several years to find the perfect location for a museum dedicated to the life of his friend, music legend Johnny Cash. But eventually, he found it on Lower Broadway.
Miller, Mayor Karl Dean and members of the Cash family announced the opening of the Johnny Cash Museum near the intersection of Broadway and Third Avenue South on Tuesday.
“This is the realization of a long-term dream,” Miller said.
Specifically, that dream consists of a two-floor, 18,000-square-foot museum, including a 250-seat music venue, honoring Cash's life and musical legacy. Miller said the project will cost roughly $7 million and open this summer.
The museum will be privately funded by Miller, a former Corona, Calif.-mayor, memorabilia dealer and expert.
“We can do whatever we want ... We don't have a board to report to,” Miller said. “Johnny always trusted me. Whatever I do, [it will be] how he wanted it to be done.”
Mayor Karl Dean spoke at the press conference and said there was “no better place to pay homage to [Johnny Cash's] talents than right here.”
Dean said he spoke to the director of the Grammy museum in Los Angeles who told him Nashville will always be a destination due to Cash.
Miller expects 150,000 visitors in the first year of the museum's opening. The average admission price will be around $13 — and Miller said he hopes to collaborate with other attractions in the area.
Cash's son, John Carter Cash, gave the project his endorsement.
“To me, it's a gathering, a unity of people who love and respect dad,” he said. “It's inspiring to see how that simple man ... how his life has so influenced the world.”
Johnny Cash's brother, Tommy, sister, Joanne, and other family members also attended the press conference.
Miller said the “nucleus” of artifacts in the museum will be from his personal collection. The original “House of Cash” sign from Cash's former Hendersonville home, will be returned from Arkansas back to Middle Tennessee, for display at the museum.
Also, an excavated stone wall from the Hendersonville home, which burned in 2007, will be moved to the museum for a re-creation of a scene inside the home.
Miller also mentioned that the owner of a Cash-used J-200 Gibson guitar told him he was going to take the guitar out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and move it to the Cash museum. He expects other collectors to donate memorabilia once word spreads about the museum.
One thing the museum won't include, however, will be mention of Cash's death.
“There is no death in this museum,” Miller said. “When folks exit, Johnny Cash is everywhere.”