Museum of Broadcast Communications

Museum of Broadcast Communications
Established 1987
Location 360 North State Street, Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates 41°53′00″N 87°37′30″W / 41.883352°N 87.625126°W / 41.883352; -87.625126

The Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) is an American museum, the stated mission of which is "to collect, preserve, and present historic and contemporary radio and television content as well as educate, inform and entertain through our archives, public programs, screenings, exhibits, publications and online access to our resources."[1] It is located in Chicago, Illinois.

The museum's locations (1987–present)

The Museum of Broadcast Communications first opened in June 1987 in the River City condominium complex, located at 800 S. Wells St. It remained there until June 1992, when it moved to the Chicago Cultural Center. The MBC then left the Cultural Center in December 2003, with plans to open in a new building of its own at 360 N. State St. in 2005.[2] Subsequently, construction of the new MBC experienced various delays and setbacks, with construction stopping in 2006 and the half-completed building slated to be sold in December 2008, which MBC founder and president Bruce DuMont blamed on a lack of $6 million in state funding that had reportedly been promised to the museum three years earlier.[3]

On November 7, 2009, DuMont announced that funding for the museum from the state of Illinois had finally been obtained and that construction would begin once again.[4] Seven months later, Governor Pat Quinn stated that Illinois would give the MBC a capital grant of $6 million to help complete its construction.[5] (In December 2009 the MBC held a construction fundraiser in Oak Park, Illinois, where DuMont was living at the time.[6] The event's headliner was Bill Jackson, the creator and host of the children's program The BJ and Dirty Dragon Show, which aired on Chicago TV from 1968 to '74, originally as Cartoon Town.[7])

The new 62,000-square-foot MBC was back under construction in 2010. It was set to include expanded areas for collection development, two exhibit galleries, and working radio and television studios.[8] The State of Illinois set a deadline of May 2011 to finish basic interior work and landscaping, but because of cold weather, the museum was given a 30-day extension on its original April 30 deadline.[9]

After being dormant for eight and a half years as a brick-and-mortar destination, the museum reopened in its new location at 360 N. State St. on June 13, 2012, exactly 25 years after it first opened its doors. The pre-opening ceremony on June 12 included actors John Mahoney (Frasier) and Betty White (The Golden Girls) and newscaster Hugh Downs (20/20).[10]

According to a February 2011 press release centered on the MBC's partnership with Cleversafe to provide online access to its archives, roughly 70,000 registered users and 4.5 million unique visitors had accessed the MBC's 400,000 online videos between 2009 and early 2011, and more than "240,000 visitors from across the country are projected for the [museum's] first year of operation."[11] However, museum attendance "dropped drastically, from 225,000 annual visitors when MBC was at the Cultural Center and free to 7,300 last year at the current entrance fee of $12," reported the Chicago Reader in May 2015. "Then in 2013, what DuMont describes as a 'server crash' destroyed access to the 10 percent of the museum's archive of radio and television programming that had been digitized and made available to the public for free."[12]

Encyclopedia of Television

The museum's online resource, the 1997 edition of the Encyclopedia of Television, includes original essays relating to historic moments and trends, major policy disputes, and such topics as violence, tabloid television, and quiz show scandals. It also includes histories of the major television networks as well as broadcasting systems from around the world, and is complemented by resource materials, photos, and bibliographical information.

The Great Debate and Beyond

Chicago hosted the first televised presidential debate, between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy, on September 26, 1960, at WBBM-TV's former studios at 630 N. McClurg Ct. In 2000 the MBC created an interactive online exhibition titled The Great Debate and Beyond: The History of Televised Presidential Debates.

National Radio Hall of Fame

The second floor of the museum is devoted to the National Radio Hall of Fame (NRHOF), which has been affiliated with the MBC since 1991.[13] (The museum was also home to the American Advertising Federation's Advertising Hall of Fame from 1992 to 2000.[14])

See also


  1. "Our Mission". Museum.TV. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  2. Storch, Charles. "Broadcast Museum on hiatus for move". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  3. Dahlman, Steven. "Museum still waiting for state money to finish new State & Kinzie home". Loop North News. Marina City Online. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  4. "Construction of broadcast museum resumes". Marina City Online. 13 June 2010. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
  5. "Governor Quinn To Announce $6 Million Capital Grant for Museum of Broadcast Communications" (Press release). Illinois Governor News Network. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
  6. Dwyer, Bill. "Oak Park child porn suspect on electronic monitor; Columbia College prof released into father's custody". Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  7. Wilson, Matthew. "Mayor of 'Cartoon Town' visits downtown Oak Park". Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  8. Dahlman, Steve (21 March 2011). "Broadcast museum unrolls floor plans". Marina City Online. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
  9. "Broadcast museum moves offices into new building". Marina City Online. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
  10. Johnson, Steve. "Museum of Broadcast Communications opens doors". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  11. "Chicago-Based Museum of Broadcast Communications Continues With Cleversafe". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  12. Isaacs, Deanna. "Has the Museum of Broadcast Communications finally found its frequency?". Sun-Times Media, LLC. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  13. Kening, Dan. "Improved Signal: Reopened Museum Of Broadcast Communications To Sharpen Its Focus On Radio". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  14. Crain, Rance. "Museum leaves Hall of Fame without a place to call home". Advertising Age. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
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