P-Funk Spaceship Lands at Smithsonian

Classic funk stage prop to anchor new museum
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2011 5:37 AM CDT
Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership Landing at Smithsonian
Parliament-Funkadelic's "Mothership" is going to anchor the music section of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.    (SidewalksOfNY315)

The Smithsonian is about to get a whole lot funkier. The Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership is going to anchor the music collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens in 2015, reports the Washington Post. While not the original, 1,200-pound aluminum spaceship—that one was sent to the scrap yard in 1982 when the band was swimming in debt, so the museum is getting a 1990s replacement—the Mothership was an essential part of the iconic funk band's stage shows since 1976. “I’m about to cry!” said P-Funk frontman George Clinton. "They’re taking the Mothership! They’re shipping it out! But I’m glad it’s going to have a nice home there."

Founded in the late 1950s as Parliament, P-Funk morphed into one of the most important funk bands of the 1970s; its 1975 album "Chocolate City" even gave Washington, DC, its nickname. “Funk is not just a good groove, it was its own kind of social protest movement,” says the museum's curator of music and performing arts. The Mothership's new neighbors will include Louis Armstrong's trumpet and some of James Brown's stage costumes. (Read more Parliament-Funkadelic stories.)

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