Atlanta resident Corey Ivory was born with an eye for design. The Texas native is the son of an interior designer, whose passion for the industry profoundly affected her offspring. After graduating from Texas Southern University with a degree in marketing, he followed in his mother’s footsteps.
“I became an event planner and then an interior designer,” Ivory told Travel Noire. “Then I was like, you know what? I want to take on a bigger project. So let me create something that people can really identify with, and take a piece of the culture with them at the same time.”
Ivory combined his skill and treasured childhood memories and channeled them into the Culture Experience, an interactive photo exhibit that highlights iconic moments in Black pop culture. It originally launched as the Houston-based #afamexperience or African American Selfie Museum in February of 2019. The pop-up has now found a home in Atlanta under a new name.
Each room in the event space features an installation replicating more than 20 cultural milestones including Nickelodeon sketch comedy series All That, BET’s 106 & Park, Martin, Vibe Magazine, LaFace Records, Rolling Out Magazine, the Civil Rights Movement, an homage to HBCUs, and a typical 90s bedroom. Ivory selects the concepts based on the city the pop-up is located in, but also draws inspiration from his own throwback wishlist.
“I try to reflect on my childhood when it was just innocent, it felt good, and it was fun. 106 & Park was just a good time in music, and we didn’t really appreciate how cool that moment was. I just want to recreate something that made us feel good that we kind of took for granted as children.”
So far the response has been immensely positive. Actress Tisha Campbell retweeted a video featuring the Martin room. Legendary producer Quincy Jones and Vibe Magazine have also recognized their efforts. Ivory is currently in negotiations with celebrities associated with 106 & Park.
“We definitely have been in talks with some of the people who’ve been involved in some of these television shows,” he shared.
A self-described “low-key hoarder”, Ivory sources materials for the set-ups during his travels across the country. Some of the items in the exhibits are also from his personal collection.
The main exhibits are up year-round, but most are seasonal and deconstructed to make way for fresh pieces every three to six months. An installation based on a late 90s video featuring Puff Daddy and Mase is in the works. But his dream production is a tribute to the King of Pop and the zeitgeist of the late 80s.
“I always wanted to go to Neverland,” Ivory recalled, referencing the extravagant 2,700-acre ranch the entertainer once called home. “Because, number one, Michael Jackson owned it. And it was just so cool. But we knew we couldn’t go so that’d be cool to recreate Neverland.”