The city of Gary, Indiana, the birthplace of
Mayor Rudy Clay said the massive, privately funded Jackson Family Center will be built without using tax dollars from Gary residents and is expected to attract 750,000 visitors a year to the gritty industrial Midwestern city that has struggled through decades of hard times.
"This is not a promise," said Clay, who stood beside Jackson family patriarch Joseph Jackson at Wednesday's press event announcing the plans after years of failed attempts to honor Jackson in Gary. "This is going to be done."
A possible hiccup in those definitive plans emerged just hours later when a reporter from the paper called one of the attorneys representing the executors for the Jackson estate, who said that the estate is planning its own "world-class museum" at a yet-undetermined site. Lawyer Howard Weitzman noted that Jackson's image and name can't be used without the estate's permission.
"The estate of Michael Jackson was never consulted about, nor is it involved in, the Jackson Family museum being proposed in Gary, Indiana," Weitzman said in a written statement. "Michael Jackson's music, name, likeness, memorabilia and other intellectual property are assets exclusively owned by the estate for the benefit of his children, his mother during her lifetime and charities as specified in his will. These properties cannot be exploited legally without written authorization from the estate. ... The estate is considering a world-class museum that would include memorabilia, music and other intellectual properties at a site yet to be determined. The estate has no connection to this project."
A lawyer for the city said the announcement was the "first step" in getting the project off the ground, noting that the Jackson family has a direct line of contact with the estate and that Jackson himself made a commitment in 2003 to building a performing arts center in Gary.
Clay said the city's Public Works department approved a land transfer to the Jackson Development & Marketing Corp. shortly before Wednesday's event, noting that the plan has the endorsement of Joe Jackson and the singer's mother, Katherine.
The artist's rendering of the proposed complex includes the Jackson Family Museum and Cultural Center, Michael Jackson Performing Arts Center and Concert Hall, and the Michael Jackson Memorial Pavilion. It is expected to take three to five years to complete the project, with private funding supplied by the Jackson Family Foundation and groundbreaking expected in early 2011.
Would you head to Gary, Indiana, to see a Michael Jackson museum? Discuss it in the comments.