Prince hosted surprise events at Paisley Park, including one held days before his April death. But the iconic musician generally led a very private life, and few people have toured his estate.
“Opening Paisley Park is something that Prince always wanted to do and was actively working on,” Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister, said in a statement. “Only a few hundred people have had the rare opportunity to tour the estate during his lifetime. Now, fans from around the world will be able to experience Prince’s world for the first time as we open the doors to this incredible place.”
Bremer Trust, which handles Prince’s estate, announced Wednesday its plans to convert the 65,000-square-foot complex into a museum. The proposed business plan lays out the details: Tours will be limited to the main floor, and will take guests through recording and mixing studios, video editing and rehearsal rooms, his sound stage and the performance hall.
The plans also mention a “private NPG music club” will be included on the tour. That’s also the name of Prince’s now-defunct subscription website that allowed members access to music online, years before streaming services came on the scene.
The museum will display “thousands of artifacts from Prince’s personal archives, including iconic concert wardrobe, awards, musical instruments, artwork, rare music and video recordings, concert memorabilia, automobiles and motorcycles,” Bremer Trust said in a statement.
“This will be an unprecedented and extraordinary opportunity for fans to experience firsthand what it was like for Prince to create, produce and perform inside this private sanctuary and remarkable production complex, which is also considered one of the greatest landmarks in the entertainment industry.”
Tickets will cost $38.50. A “VIP Tour” for small groups will also be available, priced at $100 or more per ticket, according to the plans. Paisley Park will continue to hold concerts, and its recording studio will be used for special sessions. But no events are expected until at least March.
An official family tribute concert for Prince will be held Oct. 13 at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
After Prince’s untimely death, Paisley Park became a gathering place for fans bearing flowers, tears and hugs.
Prince came up with the concept for Paisley Park while making his film “Purple Rain.” The $10 million studio complex opened in 1987 and was referred to as a “mini-Hollywood” at the time. “The complex is not a personal playroom for Prince,” said Richard Henriksen, its general manager, in the Chicago Tribune in 1987.
Henriksen told the newspaper that Prince “built it as a production tool for himself and as a tool for the whole city and the whole area. He wants it to be a catalyst for artists and production.”
Prince helped put the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen on the map. Although few have ever seen the fullness of Paisley Park, the accounts that emerged became legendary, including mentions of stained-glass panels and a vault containing hundreds of unreleased recordings.
As Time described in 1996: “The walls are ringed by zodiac signs, dotted by paintings of puffy clouds and gilded with the Artist’s gold records. High up on one wall is an illustration of two huge eyes – guess whose? – with a godlike sunburst beaming out from between them. … And when the Artist is on the premises, a glass pyramid that crowns the complex glows with a purplish light.”
After Prince’s death, some fans worried about the fate of Paisley Park. Earlier this month, Bremer Trust asked a judge for permission to sell several Prince properties. But Bremer later clarified it had no plans to sell Paisley Park.
A subsidiary of Graceland Holdings, which has helped operate the Memphis complex for 30 years, will manage Paisley Park and has provided some money for initial improvement and operating costs, according to the museum plan. Graceland has had more than 20 million visitors over the past three decades.
The city of Chanhassen still has to approve a rezoning request to make the Paisley Park museum happen. The planning commission will hold a hearing Sept. 20, and the City Council will meet Oct. 3.
“From the documents that I’ve seen and the conversations that I’ve had with family members and close friends, I believe that the plans for Paisley Park are in full accordance with Prince’s wishes,” Chanhassen Mayor Denny Laufenburger said in a statement. “Much of his vision and design activity for Paisley Park as a museum is already in place. He knew exactly how to showcase his production studio for his preparation for this eventual outcome.”