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Britney Spears Museum
204 Avenue E
Kentwood, LA 70444
Kentwood is more than a wide spot in the road but not much more, with an uncomfortable mix of new (fast food drive-through or three) and old (much of the main street area appeared abandoned.
Located a block or two from those mostly empty storefronts sits the Kentwood Museum, an impressive opening to our journey though Kitsch and Introspection Land. Turns out the Museum is not dedicated to their home town heroine exclusively, though three rooms and counting are devoted to ephemera from her busy life. There is an entire room detailing all local military involvement, plus a few shelves of unlabeled antiques. But you don’t care about that. You care about local girl made good.
A little old lady, somewhat hard of hearing, but full of local pride for her establishment, let us in, and had us pause in a darkened room while she explained that the first thing we would see was an exact replica, in miniature, of Brit’s stage set up for her HBO concert special a few years ago. The whole thing was done by a fan over the course of six months and comes complete with working lights, music, and a doll in the center of it “on loan” from someone else’s collection. When he was done with it he looked at it and said “What am I going to do with this?” and donated it to the museum.
Past this physical manifestation of the concept “Too Much Time On One’s Hands” are cases full of photos, magazine covers, random awards (some trophy from MTV probably being the most noteworthy), platinum records, and the like. There’s nothing here that you can’t probably see a photo of on a random Britney Spears fansite but seeing it all in several rooms, piling up on itself like an Ebay logjam was fascinating.
Then the kitsch value fades away and the whole thing turns suddenly and unexpectedly poignant in the last room – a recreation of Britney’s childhood bedroom complete with her bedroom set and a framed photo of a still innocent-appearing Justin Timberlake. Seeing this average teen girl’s bedroom with the stuffed animals and dolls made us look back at the photos of her through her short life and career, seeing how she has somehow gone from this fresh faced girl full of possibilities to the much-mocked, haggard, pudgy tabloid figure of late.
Consider that right outside is a small town most notable for its quick access to a freeway that can take you somewhere bigger and better and suddenly you see someone who has achieved a dream of success and escape, and at the same time someone who has been nearly absolutely corrupted (which we do not mean in a moral sense, but in terms of identity) by where she went.
Yes, we got philosophical at the Britney Spears Museum. Who knew?
By the way, the town elders won't allow photographs to be taken inside the museum, which totally ruined our road trip scavenger hunt item of a photo of one of us next to a lifesize cutout of a famous person. They cost us 25 points!
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