Bridging the gap between artistry and scientific progress, the late Bob Moog left behind a legacy of experimental craftsmanship grounded in principles of novelty and innovation.
As a musical pioneer, his ability to harness the power of electricity for the purpose of creating sound revolutionized the music industry – one of many achievements immortalized in the Moogseum located in the heart of downtown Asheville.
Regardless of your musical tastes, you’ve likely heard the ethereal drones of a synthesizer – an instrument that seems to span as many genres as it does decades. But have you ever played one? Thanks to the Moogseum, people will be given the chance to combine their musical curiosity with a remarkable learning experience that takes them deep into the rich history of Moog and his inventions.
Following his passing in 2005, the Bob Moog Foundation was established in an effort to preserve the legacy of the world-renowned inventor.
Within one year, the nonprofit had already started brainstorming what would become the Moogseum just over a decade later. With the help of Moog’s daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, the foundation was given the opportunity to rent a space where they could display the life and times of Moog in the form of an interactive exhibition.
On May 23, Moog’s 85th birthday, they opened their doors to the public.
“The people who come through are really thrilled with the experience,” said Moog-Koussa, who is the director of the Moog Foundation. “They love the interactivity and people get very excited when they’re able to play [the instruments] and understand them for the first time. It has been really well received and we are very grateful that.”
While the Moogseum is housed in a small space, don’t let the size fool you. The exhibit begins with a timeline of Moog’s life and career, laid out on a series of touchscreen kiosks that trace his story all the way back to his humble beginnings in 1934.
“We really did that to kind of orient people to not only his accomplishments, but also his challenges of which there are many,” Moog-Koussa explained. “The layout is very intentional and is meant to be a path through Bob’s life and work.”
Following the initial introduction, visitors are encouraged to make their way around the exhibit, which offers them a chance to engage with a number of hands-on educational pieces. For example, a large dome placed toward the back of the room acts an an interactive medium designed to teach the user the means by which electricity is transformed into sound as it migrates through a circuit board.
Users can then apply their newfound knowledge to the synthesizers on display. The theremin, a unique instrument played without physical contact, is also available for those interested in testing the bounds of expression through music and electricity.
Due to limited space and a variety of instruments in the foundation’s archive, however, the Moogseum will likely swap some items out over time. Other items such as the Moog Synthesizer prototype, are on loan and will eventually return to their respective lenders.
On the other hand, pieces like Moog’s workbench and photographs taken from his move to the Asheville area offer an indispensable snapshot of the inventor’s environment and are likely to remain on display. Among these photographs is a series depicting the family’s move from Buffalo to Leicester, where the Moogs bought approximately 100 acres of land to start their new life.
“There are photos of that house being constructed and pictures of the 100-year-old log cabin where we lived while it was being built,” Moog-Koussa recalled. “I would say that those are probably the happiest memories for me that are highlighted in the Moogseum.”
Aside from personal significance, photographs like these do more than tell Moog’s story. They also serve as a sort of storybook that outlines his ties to Asheville, the town he came to know and love. Today, it makes sense that the initiative dedicated to his life’s work would claim residence in a building downtown.
“The Asheville community is a wonderful combination of creativity and innovation and contains the open spirit that Bob loved when he came to Asheville,” said Moog-Koussa. “ It’s the right community to embrace our project.”
Those interested in visiting are welcome to stop by any day of the week between 11 a.m. — 5 p.m. with the exception of Sunday and Tuesday. The Moogseum is located on 56 Broadway Street in Asheville. The Bob Moog Foundation is an independent 501 © (3) non-profit organization. It is not associated with Moog Music, Inc. The Moogseum is located on 56 Broadway Street in Asheville.