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See the South’s museums

Courtesy Delta Blues Museum

Delta Blues Museum
Clarksdale, Mississippi
Legend has it that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads of U.S. highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

One mile from the crossroads is the Delta Blues Museum, where visitors can learn about other blues legends such as Son House and Muddy Waters.

“Everybody’s connection with the blues is different,” said executive director Shelley Ritter. “Our visitors usually come here for a reason: because they’re fans.”

A retrospective on Son House, the renowned bluesman who taught Robert Johnson how to play guitar, includes photographs, archival documents and a resonator guitar similar to the one House played.

The museum also houses the remains of a log cabin where McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, lived when he was a sharecropper and tractor driver for Stovall Farms. Waters played on the front porch of that very shack in 1941 when he was recorded for the Library of Congress. The exhibit also features photographs, a life-size wax figure of Waters and one of his electric guitars.

The museum ties exhibits to the city’s music festivals, including the annual Juke Joint Festival in April and the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival in August.

The Delta Blues Museum also built a 7,000-square-foot addition last year and is now raising funds to add new permanent exhibits and upgrade current exhibits.

“We hope that with the exhibits, we’re honoring these artists and their contributions to the world and music as we know it,” Ritter said.