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See how a modern pop star is made at The Taylor Swift Experience

The pop superstar wasn't born into fame, as the Grammy Museum's new exhibit reveals.


At just 26 years old, Taylor Swift has already broken at least as many records as she’s made. The pop superstar may seem like she was born famous, but what you’ll find at The Taylor Swift Experience, a museum-style exhibit opening Nov. 18 at South Street Seaport, is the real story of how she got there.

“It’s easy a fan or a visitor to walk through the door and think, ‘Oh, Taylor swift, she’s a pretty girl, tall. Duh, of course she got a record deal.’ No — in this exhibit, you get to see her journey,” says curator Ileen Gallagher.

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What she was born into was music. The Swift family opened its vault of Taylor memorabilia (her mom was basically a co-curator) to fill the exhibit with items going all the way back to her childhood including footage of a 1-year-old Taylor playing the piano and singing along with her grandmother, who was an opera singer. “You can see this girl was working at it, it’s not just some overnight success and attributing it to social media,” Gallagher says.

The exhibit first opened in 2012 at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, and the response was so huge they’re taking it on the road (appropriately). But Gallagher and her team were talking about an exhibit about her years before then, in 2008 when the museum originally opened (for those keeping track, she was just 18 at the time.)

“You can’t ignore the fact of her success and the impact she’s making, the records she’s breaking,” Gallagher says, nodding to Swift being the youngest performer to win two Album of the Year Grammys as just one example. “The thought behind this whole thing was to tell the story of a making of a modern superstar.”


Went to the Grammy Museum in LA to see the exhibit they did on ma life. My behavior was as embarrassing as usual.

A video posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on


The exhibit covers the whole of Swift’s career, which began in country music, then moves into the pop with items like the piano from the “Red” tour, the VMA Moonman that kicked off her feud with Kanye West, and even relics from her offstage life like a horse riding saddle and enviable street style ensembles.

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The New York edition will have some new items, including outfits from Swift’s “1989” tour that was still going on when the exhibit first opened, plus new videos, awards show gowns, and a few other surprise items chosen specifically with an eye to New Yorkers.

And if you’re feeling inspired to try your own hand at music, there will be a mixing station where you can create your own take on “Mean,” go inside the “Blank Space” music video or just get down on a disco-style light-up dancefloor with a giant boombox playing — what else? — “Shake It Off.”

Hardcore fans don’t need convincing to check out the “Taylor Swift Experience,” but even if you just know her as the blonde singer who likes to immortalize her breakups in songs, Gallagher says you’ll walk away with new respect for the singer-songwriter-musician.

“You think you know Taylor Swift from what we’ve been invited to see about her life,” she says. “This is a closer glimpse into what she’s gone through. You can do nothing at the end but just appreciate and say, ‘Wow, this girl has really worked her butt off.’”

Taylor Swift Experience
Nov. 18-Feb. 19, 2017
19 Fulton St.
$9, grammymuseum.org

For the rest of the best entertainment in New York City this season, visit ourWinter Arts Guide

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