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Long Island Music Hall of Fame Plans to Bridge History with New Museum

Museum sneak peek at plans for exhibit and education space at historic building in Port Jefferson.

They have Billy Joel’s piano but they have no place to put it.

Not yet.

The Long Island Music Hall of Fame, which officially made its home at the old Brookhaven Town Tax Assessor’s office on the corner of Main and East Main Streets in Port Jefferson village last year, has plans for a museum dedicated to the long history of the Island in music. Now it needs the money to make the dream come true.

At a benefit last week inside the dusty old building with the familiar red façade, chairman Jim Faith unveiled drawings of what architect Peter Caradonna and exhibit designer Kevin O’Callahan hope the museum will one day look like.

The plan seeks to bridge the old and the new both physically and metaphorically.

Caradonna described his vision for a state-of-the art museum. Two stories filled with exhibits ranging from audio and visual displays to iconic artifacts like the piano Billy Joel donated to the Hall of Fame. The plan is to integrate music education programs and an intimate performance space all connected by a bridge running through the center of the building.

It’s hard to imagine a shiny new exhibit space. After years of disuse the interior is vacant and gritty but the museum board members have a vision.

Caradonna, a Stony Brook-based architect and radio host at local station WUSB, has been working with the Hall of Fame for six years. He quoted writer Johan Wolfgan von Goethe in saying that architecture is “frozen music.”

“There’s a new building on this side of the wall and an old building on this side of the wall,” Caradonna said, describing the bridge that will link the two, reflecting the metaphor of bridging Long Island’s history in music from Perry Como to Public Enemy. He said that the design will represent “all the metaphors that we’re bringing into the museum.”

The music invokes not just a feeling but a memory of specific time, said O’Callahan, a designer who was there when they “turned on the lights at MTV,” according to Faith.

O’Callahan, a resident of the Three Village area, has chops when it comes to music set design. He worked on the Video Music Awards and countless videos in what he called “the big Eighties.”

“We don’t want the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” he said referring to the Cleveland-based museum. The Long Island Music Hall of Fame museum has to focus on a specific region, he said.

“It has to look, taste and smell of Long Island,” he said. “People have to come here and have to feel a part of the moment.”

He recalled that Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” was playing when his daughter was born.

“It brings back a memory,” he said.

O’Callahan thinks after all is said and done, he’ll have plenty of space to do what he wants to do. He imagines very dramatic exhibits and a tripling of the current square footage

To do all this, the Hall of Fame needs to raise money. According to Faith, it will take about $2.5 million to build the museum that they want and make Port Jefferson village the center of music culture on Long Island.

This year’s annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Paramount Theater in Huntington on Oct. 18 promises to be the biggest yet and will kick off a major capital campaign to raise the funds needed.

O’Callahan believes it will happen. He was brought onto the project by childhood friend .

“Dee mentioned this to me because I love music and I love this area,” he said.

When he met Faith he said he was “blown away” by his passion to build the museum.

“It’s going to be an amazing thing when its here,” O’Callahan said.

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