The 8-track has been through this rodeo before. It's come and gone and sort of come back before, but now it looks like it's not enough to keep Dallas' 8-track museum -- the only like it in the world -- in business. Earlier this week, museum owner Bucks Burnett announced that Westdale Realty is preparing to remove all current tenants from the premises of 2630 E. Commerce St. in Deep Ellum.
Burnett, a one-of-a-kind character who once owned 14 Records in Denton, announced the news on his personal Facebook account on Wednesday morning. "Westdale have shown nothing but kindness to me," Burnett says of his time running the museum. "They and the Deep Ellum Foundation were primarily responsible for this place even being possible, and they've been very helpful every step of the way."
The cause, of course, is a bit of a double-edged sword: Westdale also owns the property across the street that houses The Bomb Factory. That venue's return after a 20-year hiatus seems to be a watershed moment in Deep Ellum's continued return to good health, but it also means neighboring properties have become more valuable. As a result, an oddity like the museum, along with Deep Ellum on Air and the neighboring Deep Ellum Trading Company all need to find a new home come July or August.
"I'm lucky I got five months, much less five years, out of this concept," says Burnett, who opened the museum on Christmas Day in 2010. It was initially a hit, even appearing on the front page of the Wall Street Journal before it had even opened, but in the past couple years "every single [visitor] is from out of state."
In fact, Burnett acknowledges that it's not exactly a concept tailor-made for Dallas, which is one reason why he's not interested in trying to revive it elsewhere. "It needs to be in New York or L.A. or London or Tokyo," he says. He adds, with perfect deadpan, "Or Waxahatchie." Burnett says he's open to selling off the rights and the inventory or having it be hosted elsewhere, but he's not interested in continuing it himself.
"I"m considering all options but right now think I we're in a death spiral," he says. While Westdale have been relaxed about when exactly Burnett needs to be out of the building, he's already starting to pack things up. "I'm not looking to let this linger."
The museum will remain open to visits by appointment only, although Burnett warns the roughly 2,500-piece inventory -- which includes CDs and other media, as well as memorabilia like a mold of Tiny Tim's teeth and a Bob Dylan harmonica -- will quickly diminish in the coming weeks. While the 8-track museum is on its way out, he hopes that some of the artifacts will someday find a new home, as this was the first documented music history museum in Dallas.
Still, Burnett has no regrets. "It's impossible to describe what it's like to own a museum," he says. "I own three record stores, and it's a great feeling. But owning a museum is a whole other feeling."
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