Robert Moog changed the landscape of music forever when he launched the first commercial synthesizer in the ‘60s. Since then, the Moog name has become synonymous with synthesis and iconic pieces of hardware like the Minimoog. Now, the Bob Moog Foundation has opened the Moogseum — a museum dedicated to Moog’s work and other important music devices — in Asheville, North Carolina.
The museum had its soft opening this week but will officially celebrate a grand opening on August 15th. The 1,400 square foot space features an immersive visualization dome that lets guests “step inside a circuit board” to see how electricity becomes sound, and a recreation of Bob Moog’s workbench. There are also rare theremins on display, prototype synth modules from the late ‘60s, many of Moog’s personal work documents, a hands-on exhibit to learn about sound synthesis, Minimoogs to play with, and more.
When Robert Moog debuted the Moog synthesizer in 1964, it was a starkly different alternative to what was available in the market. At the time, synths could easily cost six figures, were programmed by using punchcards, and took up massive amounts of space. A famous example is the RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer, which needed an entire room and cost around $500,000 to develop. In contrast, the Moog synthesizer was cheap, with a price tag of $10,000. It could also be played with a keyboard, and was relatively compact.
This affordability and keyboard interface opened up synthesis to a whole new world of users. Micky Dolenz of The Monkees was an early adopter, and the band featured it on their chart-topping 1967 album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. But it was Wendy Carlos’ Grammy-winning 1968 album Switched-On Bach that truly pushed the Moog synth into the spotlight. Since then, Moog synths have also used through the years by The Beatles, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, MGMT, and scores of other artists.
If you are interested in popping by the Moogseum, it’s located at 56 Broadway Street in Asheville, North Carolina, and is open every day from 11am to 5pm, except Sundays and Tuesdays.