Hip hop turns 50: Milwaukee woman owns museum dedicated to the history of hip hop

MILWAUKEE — “When did you first fall in love with hip hop?” asked TMJ4. “When they were playing like Public Enemy, KRS-One, Stop the Violence movement, Doug E. Fresh…about ’86, 1986,” said Antonia Anderson.

Anderson is the founder and curator of the Milwaukee Hip Hop Museum. “I started the Milwaukee Hip Hop Museum in 2019 during COVID when I was actually working at home,” said Anderson.

She works for Milwaukee Public Schools and believes that hip hop can help children with critical thinking, their writing skills, and being more productive in the community. Her home is filled with everything from turntables to images of individuals who serve as pioneers like Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc.

“This is actually like a magazine, solo of when he first started and had a party for his sister Brenda, which became like one of the most famous parties,” said Anderson. “Hip Hop was born (laughter) yes!”

Hip Hop Museum.jpg
Antonia Anderson
Founder/Curator of Milwaukee Hip Hop Museum

That day in the Bronx helped kickstart the massive cultural force that has since become a lifestyle for millions across the globe from the music to dancing to fashion. “If it wasn’t for Dapper Dan and Gucci and all the creative things… he really put a different twist on fashion.” But it’s no secret that hip hop is really about attitude. Being creative, whether it’s RUN DMC rapping about their Adidas with no laces or the strong lyrics in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message”.

“Over here, I have my vinyl album collections. I know you know that in 2024 they’re going to have break dancing in the Olympics,” she said.

Graffiti and break dancing were the aspects of the culture that first caught the public’s attention. “The memories of growing up with hip hop and then to walk into your museum, it all comes flooding back and it’s just so much fun. We have Salt-n- Pepa, Whitney Houston, TLC, Aaliyah…just a little bit of everybody…everyone, yeah.”

TMJ4’s Andrea Williams described it as feeling like a kid in a candy store. Whether it’s action figures, cassette tapes, magazines or clothing…Antonia has it all. It’s a huge reminder that hip hop has generated huge sales of everything from electronics, automobiles, and even television.

“Back in the day the cameras that we used! Yes, at the concerts Polaroids were everything!” Antonia plans to continue traveling around the city and the country sharing her wisdom of hip hop and the global impact that it’s had. She also plans to continue growing her collection which will help spread the knowledge for generations to come.

For more information on the Milwaukee Hip Hop Museum, head to their website here.

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