Smithsonian Acquires Soul Train Artifacts

A collection of set props and other show items have been donated to the museum.

Posted: 06/28/2011 05:52 PM EDT
Aretha Franklin Don Cornelius

Get ready to step back into the funky past, because items from one of Black America’s favorite shows will now be preserved.

Artifacts from the legendary show Soul Train have been donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, in celebration of the show’s 40th anniversary.

Starting in 1971, the show jumpstarted the career of many legends including Ike and Tina Turner, Gladys Knight and the Pips and the Isley Brothers, just to name a few. A collection of iconic lights, including two 10-foot wide neon signs used between 1993 and 2006, have now become a part of the museum and will be featured in a music and popular culture exhibit open to the public in 2015.

“From a scholarly point of view, this is one of those television shows that beamed African-American culture to households of Black and white America. It dominated the Black TV viewership of Black teenagers and then it impacted white households,” Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director of the museum, said in a statement. “We are grateful to Soul Train for donating an important piece of American history and pop culture to our museum.”

On June 30 the Smithsonian will host Rhythm and Blues: Tell It Like It Is, a festival to celebrate the cultural and historic impact that the show has had on music and dance.

(Photo: 2001 Tribune Entertainment/Getty Images)