Fans looking to tour Paisley Park – Prince’s Chanhassen home, studio, nightclub and concert venue – should be warned … the tour starts off on a quite somber note.
Walking into the main atrium of Paisley, eyes are first drawn to the walls that are adorned with gold and platinum albums and wallpapered in clouds similar to those in the “Raspberry Beret” video. There’s the immediate recognition that this is sacred space. Then, past the first hallway; lights from the heavens shine through the pyramid shaped glass ceiling and focus on the marble floor designed with Prince’s iconic symbol. And just off the marble sits a replica of Paisley and on the second level of the replica rests a shiny deep purple encasement. About this time during the tour – just a minute or two in – the guide lets everyone know that encasement is an urn … an urn filled with Prince’s remains. And that’s when it hits. The artist who gave us 39 studio albums and three movies; the artist who sold more than 100 million records; the artist who in many ways put Minnesota on the map and who meant so much to so many … that artist is gone.
With the April 21 passing of the legend, there was a bit of back and forth as to what would become of Paisley Park. Earlier this summer it was announced that the Minnesota landmark would serve as a museum; and just last month the Chanhassen City Council gave the green light to begin fulltime operations as a tourist destination. Thousands are expected to tour the space of the late entertainer – just as thousands showed up at Paisley when news spread of his death.
What those tourists will see is memorabilia from throughout his career, including two of his signature guitars that appeared on tour with him and in the 1984 classic, “Purple Rain.” In addition, those on the guided tour will get to walk about the musician’s office, editing studio, recording studio, concert hall/soundstage (where “Graffiti Bridge” was shot) and NPG Club.
Almost the entire space remains as it was the day Prince passed. Exceptions – besides the replica of Paisley with the urn – are rooms transformed to pay homage to movies “Purple Rain,” “Graffiti Bridge” and “Under the Cherry Moon.” A foyer that leads to both the concert hall and NPG Club displays Prince’s Super Bowl performance on a large screen; and across from it is a section of fence from outside of Paisley that has mementos left by Prince’s fans.
“Paisley Park has always been a place where everyone was accepted and you can feel that here,” said Angie Marchese, director of artifacts from Paisley Park. “You can still feel his presence here.”
Prince’s presence may be most felt when tourists view a wall-size painting of the “Rainbow Children” album cover that has an image of Prince playfully peeking – as if peeking from behind a curtain.
The entire second floor of Paisley, which is where Prince’s living quarters were, is off limits to visitors, as well as the much talked about vault. Marchese said the goal is to adhere to what they believed would have been Prince’s wishes.
“The mystique of the vault will always remain,” said Marchese. “That’s how Prince wanted it and we’re honoring his wishes.”
Touring Paisley Park is a pilgrimage that many Prince fans feel is a “must do.” But be warned, not all will come away with a warm and fuzzy feeling.