“This isn’t your typical museum.”
That’s Trap Music Museum general manager Krystal Garner, telling Curbed Atlanta about one of the Westside’s hottest new attractions.
And she’s right; the Trap Music Museum, located on English Avenue’s Travis Street, in “the Bluff,” doesn’t welcome patrons with pamphlets or maps. There are no prehistoric curators droning on about days past.
The first thing visitors see when they stroll into the somewhat unassuming stone- and wood-clad structure is a to-scale replica of a pint-sized convenience store—the kind you can still find all over much of non-gentrified Atlanta.
Expect the usual accouterments: Sodas, candies, rolling papers, glass pipes.
Next, visitors are ushered into “Grandma’s living room,” a dank den complete with boarded-up windows, childhood portraits of now famous musicians—look out for T.I., 2 Chainz, Cardi B, 21 Savage, and Migos, among others—jars of prop weed, and dime bags of fake cocaine.
Next comes the main part of the exhibit. It features a replica crack cocaine cook site, artwork dedicated to some of trap music’s biggest names, and a recreation of Atlanta rapper T.I.’s—Clifford Harris, one of trap’s forefathers, is also a museum curator—closet, which was raided by police in 2007.
T.I. was then arrested on federal gun charges, but it’s important to note that the Trap Music Museum is not an effort to glorify criminal activity.
In the middle of the recreated closet, which features some of T.I.’s clothes, as well as a handful of assault rifles and other guns, his Grammy award is typically on display, symbolizing his hard-fought graduation from the trap life to that of international acclaim.
And after cruising through various exhibit spaces, including walls adorned with photos and memorabilia from trap music stars and some up-and-comers, patrons enter the main atrium, where they can find a mock jail cell, more artwork, and 2 Chainz’s original iconic pink car that once sat in front of the celebrated, now-defunct Pink Trap House.
“We had to wheel it in ourselves,” said James Miller, the museum’s marketing director, about the old Chevy sedan. “They were gracious enough to give us the original. We didn’t really want a replica, so we had to reach out to our sources and make sure we get the authentic thing.”
“We had to really fix it up because, on the last day of the Pretty Girls Love Trap pop-up, they demolished the car, spray-painted it, and jumped on it, and let out a lot of aggression,” he added with a laugh.
Like the Pink Trap House, the museum was initially meant to be a pop-up, but visitors and those who missed out on the opportunity demanded the attraction stay put.
“We decided to reopen during Super Bowl weekend,” said Garner.
The location of the space is also significant.
The English Avenue site reminds visitors that, although much of Atlanta, even large parts of the Westside, are experiencing gentrifying forces—a Beltline connection will one day snake through the museum’s backyard—trap culture has long played an influential role in the local community.
Said Miller: “It’s the Bluff. It’s the heart of the Westside. If anybody knows anything about Atlanta and Atlanta trap culture, you’d have to say it started on the Westside.”
“We want to make sure we put a black-owned business in the heart of a community that the city has forgotten, and show the city that a successful business can be driven in a forgot-about area,” he continued.
It’s no surprise that the museum has enjoyed tremendous success, and not just because of the Westside community. People have come from near and far to experience the curious phenomenon that’s allowed trap culture to be seen through a less-than-clandestine lens.
Garner said they see about 6,000 people each weekend, “and we’re only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”
Plus, the space includes an escape room. (Museum entry is $10; the escape room experience, for groups, is $30 and includes museum access.)
“During the week, we open up our doors for the ‘Escape the Trap’ experience because people were complaining that they couldn’t get a reservation since our weekends were selling out,” Garner said.
The museum also serves as a bustling gathering spot for people already familiar with the city’s hip-hop heritage.
Like Garner said, this isn’t just another museum.
“When you go into a museum, you get some historical moments, some cool photo opportunities, and you leave the experience,” she said. “With us, you have actors that all have specific roles that entertain you throughout the experience. (Get ready for a grandma character in the living room.) And then we have our bar. People who’ve been here before will come to just watch a game or chill out just for the experience and the music.”
But the museum staff also finds ways to give back: They allow rising artists to record music in their two studio booths, and employees also hit the streets to help mend the conditions of the Bluff, which is dotted with blighted properties and litter.
Every Wednesday, Miller said, the Trap Music Museum staff mills about English Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods in search of ways to help.
“Our staff does a community clean-up,” he said. “They roll up their sleeves and interact with the community and make sure it’s cleaned up. We help with groceries if people need help carrying them. We have really been a pillar of the community. And that’s not on purpose; that’s just who we are as a team.”