SouthPop packs up for move north

Sabrina LeBoeuf

Behind a stack of boxes, Leea Mechling packs away music posters and flyers.

Before putting the black portfolios away, she flips through the pages and reminisces.

As the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture prepares to leave its original home on South Lamar for a larger space at Threadgill’s, Mechling said she cannot help but remember.

SouthPop, which collects and showcases art and music memorabilia, opened in 2004, but Mechling’s life in the arts scene dates back before then. She has been collecting music memorabilia since 1968, and said she has collectibles spread across her home and a climate-controlled storage unit.

She remembers her days working at the Armadillo World Headquarters, an iconic music venue from the 1970s, especially now as she prepares for the museum’s move to the space donated by Threadgill’s owner Eddie Wilson.

“When you look at the old posters and even new ones now, you see the poster, the name of the band and if you’ve been to that gig, it brings the performance back to you,” Mechling said.

SouthPop will reopen as the Austin Museum of Popular Culture on Oct. 27 with an exhibit on artist Jim Franklin. The new space will give museum patrons on-site parking for the first time, as well as more elbow room in the gallery. The museum will also have more storage space to house collections.

Not everything will travel to the new location. The museum board’s vice president Freddie Krc said the outdoor stage will stay in its spot.

“I’ll miss it being outside when it’s a beautiful day, but I won’t miss it when it’s raining,” Krc said.

The SouthPop stage will see its last event on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m.— a concert from Bottlecap Mountain, an Austin-based pop indie rock band.

Stewart Gersmann, band member and songwriter, said they are honored to be the last artist to perform at the original location.

“It feels like a fun little milestone, at least in my life, or milestone for the band, even though they’re not actually closing and going away,” Gersmann said.

Mechling said the move is bittersweet, but she is thrilled to display more pieces than ever before.

“We’ve made a lot of good friends and have collected a whole lot of stuff here, but the next evolution of us is taking place,” Mechling said. “I’m just so happy and really looking forward to what comes next.”

Eddie, who founded the Armadillo World Headquarters and worked alongside Mechling in the past, has been trying to fill the upstairs space for decades, so he said it’s perfect that the Austin Museum of Popular Culture is coming in.

“It’s like having a part of the library move in,” Eddie said. “I’ve been beating the drum for a lot of years with regard to the history of Austin, and this is like having a major player in that history suddenly cuddling up to us.”

Sandra Wilson, Eddie’s wife, said bringing the museum to Threadgill’s is more than a partnership. It’s a reunion dating back to the days of the Armadillo.

“We’re still all family, and for them to come here, it’s like they’re coming home,” Sandra said.