Photo by Reema Sales

Near the corner of 64th and Cottage Grove sits the Johnny Twist Historical Blues Museum; it’s  incredibly difficult to miss. The brick facade can barely be seen behind the slew of rainbow posters that read  “Black Love Is Power” and “The Black Shoe Delta Blues.” In addition to the colorful posters across the front of the museum, there are several racks of beautiful clothing, accessories, and posters that can be purchased as well. 

The front of this museum gives you just a taste of the rich, artifact-packed museum just beyond the front door. There is a single narrow pathway through the museum and where you’ll be surrounded by newspaper clippings, photographs, magazine covers, posters, and artifacts from Twist’s time as a rock-a-boogie blues superstar. Twist himself guides you through the museum, first establishing himself as a prominent blues star,and if you still doubt his stardom, he has a stockpile of newspaper clippings and magazine articles written about him from the Chicago Defender and the Weekly.

Throughout the tour, Twist welcomes questions about his collection and is happy to share his contributions to and knowledge about blues history. As he explains the meaning behind the various artifacts of the museum, he sometimes sighs with nostalgia. Twist highlights many of the people who made blues the legendary music genre it is today. His museum keeps their legacies alive by sharing with guests stories of those who have passed. 

At first glance, this museum appears to be an assortment of random objects but the museum truly comes to life once you’ve experienced it alongside Twist himself as he explains their significance. It’s called the Johnny Twist Blues Museum for a reason! Twist’s guidance and knowledge gives meaning to the museum, an experience that would be difficult to find anywhere else. 

Leaving the museum is almost as strange as entering it, you step back to reality and leave the cramped storefront behind. This museum leaves a lasting impact on you though. You will find yourself thinking back on Twist’s quirks and small trinkets around the museum. The Johnny Twist Blues Museum is more than a museum, it’s the history of an entire people and genre all in one place.

Johnny Twist Blues Museum, 6455 S. Cottage Grove Ave. $5. Open Monday through Saturday, 11am–5pm. (312) 779-4116

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