Universal Hip Hop Museum gets $5.5M in funding

By Raya Rajamani

Hip-hop icons including Russell Simmons, Eric B and Grand Wizzard Theodore joined Mayor Eric Adams in the Bronx on Wednesday to celebrate $5.5 million in funding for the future Universal Hip Hop Museum.

The museum, which is under construction at the intersection of Exterior Street and East 150th Street, will receive $2 million in funding from Adams, $2 million from Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and $1.5 million from the City Council as part of the 2023 fiscal year budget, the mayor said in a press release.

At a news conference at the construction site Wednesday morning, Adams said he “grew up listening to hip-hop.”

“Who I am as a person, is what I received from these artists,” he said. “These artists gave me this energy, so when you see me moving in this level of confidence as a mayor, [it’s] because I watched them with a level of confidence as they perform.”

The museum itself is set to house gallery spaces, interactive exhibits and a black box theater, according to the release. The project will also include 350 units of permanent affordable housing and public space.

Workers broke ground at the site in May of last year, and construction is expected to wrap up in fall 2025, the release said.

The $5.5 million in funding is part of the city’s broader $127 million investment in cultural sites across the five boroughs, the release added.

Simmons on Tuesday noted that the “history of hip-hop is not recorded that well.”

“We all know the billionaires. We know Kanye, and we’ll certainly celebrate Kanye, and Drake, and all the big success stories, but we forget many of the artists,” he said. “And I want to make sure that we tell those stories.”

“So that’s why I’m very excited about this, that the history of hip-hop will be told properly,” he added. “And that’s, for me, a great contribution, and for me that’s my purpose here.”