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.
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.”