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First ever museum honouring American comedy opens in Jamestown

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The first ever museum dedicated to telling the story of American comedy has opened in Jamestown, New York, US.

JRA provided complete master planning, design, project management and art direction for the 37,000sq ft (3,400sq m) National Comedy Center, which took seven years to complete at a cost of around US$50m (€43.2m, £38.6m).

As well as featuring 50 exhibits exploring comedy history – from vaudeville to viral memes – the museum will offer visitors the chance to experience comedy tailored to their tastes through an RFID bracelet. After creating a humour profile, visitors can explore content tailored to their individual tastes, from broad slapstick to edgy satire. Guests can then try their hand at comedy writing and stand-up, and take part in games and competitions.

There are also a number of personal items on show – including a Harley Davidson motorcycle donated by actor Dan Aykroyd.

"As a nonprofit cultural institution, the museum celebrates comedy’s great minds and unique voices, from Charlie Chaplin to Dave Chappelle," a spokesperson for the museum said.

"Exclusive collections and world-class exhibits give comedy fans an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the time-honed creative processes that have elevated entertainment to an art.

"Along with educational games and fun competitions, guests can step into the shoes of comedy pros, trying their hand at cartooning, comedy writing, live stand-up, and faux pie fights – or simply cheer on their friends.

"Visitors will leave the museum with a profound appreciation for comedy icons and innovators, as well as the tremendous influence of humour on how we think, live, and laugh."

The museum is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors a year.

National Comedy Center executive director Journey Gunderson said: "There has never been a national cultural institution that provides comedy with the opportunity for appreciation often afforded other art forms.

"Culture is preserved by meaningful storytelling. What these artists have done is important, and it should be both celebrated and contextualized, drawing connections that make the past relevant to the present. Lucille Ball understood the power of comedy, and had the vision for her hometown to become a destination for its celebration in a way that would educate, foster and inspire. That’s what we’ve set out to do here."

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The first ever museum dedicated to telling the story of American comedy has opened in Jamestown, New York, US.
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