Paisley Park to open to fans as Prince museum

The Paisley Park compound of music legend Prince seen through a fence in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Paisley Park compound of music legend Prince seen through a fence in Minneapolis, Minnesota.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Paisley Park, Prince's state-of-the-art studio complex that held a mythic status for fans who entered it during the pop legend's life, will open to the public as a museum.

The Purple Rain star's estate said it was teaming up for the project with the company behind Graceland, Elvis Presley's home-turned-museum in Memphis that draws more than 600,000 visitors a year.

The 55,000 sq ft complex will open for tours on Oct 6, one week before fans descend on Prince's Minnesota hometown of Minneapolis for a memorial tribute concert at the new US Bank Arena.

Prince's sister Tyka Nelson said that the pop star had long hoped to allow the public into Paisley Park, which he opened in 1987 in the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen and where he died on April 21.

"Opening Paisley Park is something that Prince always wanted to do and was actively working on," Nelson said in a statement on Wednesday.

"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," she said.

A plan submitted to the city of Chanhassen said that fans would go on 70-minute guided tours that cover Prince's recording and mixing studios, his concert hall and his so-called NPG Music Club, which he kept private.

In line with Prince's guidance when he threw parties at Paisley Park, the museum will serve only vegetarian food and no alcohol, the plan said.

The museum will also present thousands of Prince's personal items, including his often sensational concert outfits, musical instruments, cars and motorcycles and rare recordings.

Tickets will cost US$38.50 (S$52), with VIP tickets for special, smaller tours to run over US$100.

Prince, fresh from the acclaim for Purple Rain, invested some US$10 million - about twice as much in 2016 dollars - to build a top-of-the line recording centre at Paisley Park.

Led by Los Angeles-area architects Boto Design, Paisley Park has four main studios with sound and vibration isolation so artists can record and perform simultaneously.

Prince initially rented out Paisley Park. Top artists including Madonna, Stevie Wonder and R.E.M. all either recorded or mixed there, making the isolated suburban complex an unlikely hub for the global music industry.

Prince a decade later made it his exclusive domain. Few fans were able to see Paisley Park for themselves, giving the complex an added aura for those who entered its gates.

But Prince late in his life opened the complex for periodic dance parties, generally announced at the last minute.

Prince briefly played at Paisley Park during one such party on April 17, his last performance before his death at age 57 from an accidental overdose of painkillers.

Bremer Trust, which administers Prince's affairs with the permission of his siblings, earlier told a court that it sought business projects out of fear that the estate would not be able to pay its taxes.

The court dismissed an objection, filed by a prisoner who says he is Prince's son, that it was premature to monetise Paisley Park amid disputes over heirship.

Bremer Trust said it expected 1,500 to 2,000 people to visit Paisley Park on peak days and that it was open to developing the site in the future, including potentially by allowing fans to stay the night.

Graceland, where Presley is buried, offers a model for building a successful business through a late star and has become a pre-eminent tourist attraction in Memphis, Tennessee.

When Michael Jackson, Prince's contemporary who was often seen as a rival, died in 2009, fans called for turning his Neverland Ranch into a memorial but the proposal floundered amid the prohibitive cost and the California estate is up for sale.