“I will try to do my best to do nothing for the rest of my life to embarrass a building,” joked Bruce Springsteen as Monmouth University in West Long Branch announced its plans for a 30,000-square-foot, $45 million on-campus building to house the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music.
The building will include galleries as well as a 230-seat theater. In addition to artifact exhibitions, concerts, workshops, symposia, film screenings and more — related to Springsteen as well as to American music in general — will be offered.
About two-thirds of the $45 million has been raised so far, said Archives executive director Robert Santelli, adding that the university is hoping for, but not guaranteeing, a spring 2026 opening. He said the Archives, currently housed in a relatively small building on the Monmouth campus, already has 37,000 items.
The announcement was made at a press conference, which Springsteen attended, at the university’s Great Hall. Santelli, a Monmouth alumnus, mentioned having seen Springsteen perform with his band Steel Mill at a freshman orientation event on the steps behind the building, in 1969.
Other attendees at the press conference included Darlene Love, original E Street Band drummer Vini Lopez, Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau and his former manager Carl “Tinker” West.
Springsteen started his brief speech (you can watch the whole thing below) by saying that “The first thing I want to say is how happy I am that my archives are going to have a home right here in New Jersey. That means a lot.”
After thanking Santelli and others involved in the Archives, and asking Love to stand up and take a bow, he continued, “Having a building with your name on it is a tricky thing. Because I’m still alive. … I mean, I could get arrested for shooting tequilas in a public park. That’s something that could happen, you know (laughs). But all I can say is I will try to do my best to do nothing for the rest of my life to embarrass a building …
“Believe it or not, there are people who come from around the world, for their vacations, or their pilgrimages, to spend their hard-earned dollars in Asbury Park, or Freehold, in search of from whence I have hailed. And now, they will actually have someplace to go other than my house. So I’m glad about that. I’m glad about getting junk out of my house because it was really getting cluttered in there. So now I’ve got someplace to put that stuff …
“At 19, as Bob was saying, I played on these very steps, out here, so to stand here today is quite humbling, knowing that I’m going to be a presence here on this campus, which I really look forward to being. It’s deeply satisfying. I look forward to working with everyone to make the building and this endeavor a great success. Thank you.”
A sister exhibition space is also planned for Springsteen’s hometown in Freehold.
For more on the archives, visit springsteenarchives.org.
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