As a girl named Taylor, about the same age as Taylor Swift, trying to simply grow up at the same time that Swift established herself as one of the biggest superstars in music, I've always had a tough time getting on the Swiftie train.
Now I will admit, I own all of Swift's albums except 1989 (which is still on my iPod, thanks to my Taylor Swift-obsessed brother), and I've seen her in concert four times. But even so, my fandom always felt more obligatory than genuine. Yet I found myself intrigued by the Grammy Museum's Taylor Swift Experience when it hit the South Street Seaport neighborhood of New York City... and realized I'm more of a fan than I thought.
Upon walking into the Taylor Swift Experience, you're immediately immersed in all things Taylor, with merchandise on the left and her catchy tunes providing the soundtrack throughout the building. Before hitting the heart of the exhibit, an introductory sign reminds fans of the insane success Swift has already had. You know, the millions of albums sold, the sold-out tours, the 10 Grammys (with which she set two records for her album of the year wins). While the biggest Swifties certainly know all of these tidbits, everything comes to fruition at the Taylor Swift Experience. One walk through it, and Swift goes from pop princess to music legend -- no matter where you stand on her.
As you would expect from a museum honoring an artist, the exhibit has one of Swift's coveted Grammys, some of her most famous outfits from red carpets and music videos, props from her sell-out treks around the world and more. Perhaps one of the most endearing parts of the exhibit is the "Early Years" section, which features everything from her baby clothes to her first press kit. Plus, handwritten lyrics of songs like "22" and "Welcome to New York" make for a pretty surreal look into the success of the global phenomenon Swift has proven to be.
Along with the artifacts from her life and career thus far, the exhibit also gives fans a deeper look into who Swift is as an artist with behind-the-scenes footage of her songwriting as well as a 13-hour meet and greet she did for fans in 2010 (no, that wasn't a typo -- she really met fans for 13 hours). And after seeing all that, you hit the discography wall that shows everything Swift has achieved with just five albums. At this point, it's hard not to fall in love with her even if it's simply because of all that she's accomplished in such a short span.
Although the focus of the Taylor Swift Experience is to honor the incredible talent the 26-year-old singer is -- in fact, she's the first living artist to receive a Grammy exhibit -- the Grammy Museum folks made sure to cater to the biggest of Swift fans with some interactive aspects, such as a dance floor featuring her catchiest tunes, sound mixing one of her hits and a sing-along room seemingly built for those who never stop singing Swift songs.
Needless to say, the Taylor Swift Experience is nothing short of la-la land for those die-hard Swifties. But even if you go into it on the fence about Swift the way I did, you're guaranteed to gain a newfound appreciation for the 1989 singer -- and maybe even reach fangirl status by the end.
The Taylor Swift Experience is located at 19 Fulton Street in the Seaport District of New York City, open Mondays and Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays noon to 8 p.m., Fridays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $9 for everyone older than 5, who are free. The exhibit, which was featured in Los Angeles from December 2014 through October 2015, will be in NYC until Feb. 19. It will then move to Grammy Museum Mississippi in Cleveland, Mississippi.