TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – As guests walk through Graceland Plaza, they come upon the newest attraction, “Elvis Tupelo” at the Bijou Theatre.
“We try to keep everything very period oriented to the 1950s within the exhibit, from the marshmallow sofas we have to chandeliers hanging,” said Carolyn Perkins, who designed the exhibit.
The space represents a long standing partnership between Graceland, Elvis Presley Enterprises and Tupelo’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Our ultimate goal is about educating the Elvis fan that comes and visits Graceland about educating them about how close Tupelo is to Memphis and the easy accessibility and how influential Tupelo was in Elvis’ early years while he was living in Tupelo,” said Neal McCoy, of the Tupelo CVB.
“This exhibit was born out of a great relationship, years of conversation , talking about something new that Graceland never had done before and one thing we’ve never done is be able to transport people directly to Tupelo and now we can,” according to Jane Mims, of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
There are a variety of items on display, posters from every Tupelo Elvis Festival, a movie screen playing the CVB produced film, “Tupelove” and interactive kiosks .
There are also unique items from the Presley family’s early years in Tupelo.
“My favorite piece in here is the steamer trunk. It was sitting in a warehouse, we opened it up, in the trunk were receipts, Elvis’ third grade report card, a crayon box, a pair of pants that belonged to Vernon he used when he was a carpenter, it was Elvis’ early childhood in a box,” said Angie Marchese, director of archives for Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Fans say the Tupelo exhibit is informative, revealing and entertaining.
“His twin brother, I didn’t know he had a twin brother, I didn’t know about that, I didn’t really know he was close to his mom like he was,” said 17 year old Amanda Stallings, of St. Louis.
“Elvis was a child in a man’s body and it’s , he’s done amazing things and it’s amazing to see from where he came,” said 19 year old Jared Aleto, of St. Louis.
The numbers tell the story, Every year more than 600,000 people visit Graceland, 45,000 people visit his birthplace and tourism officials are hoping the Bijou Theatre exhibit bumps that number up to 60,000 . The exhibit runs through at least 2015.
That exhibit is free to the public.